Missouri Mavericks coach Scott Hillman wants his team well rested when it takes on the Dayton Gems at 6 this evening at Hara Arena in Dayton, Ohio.

Missouri Mavericks coach Scott Hillman wants his team well rested when it takes on the Dayton Gems at 6 this evening at Hara Arena in Dayton, Ohio.

The team left at midnight Wednesday for the 10-hour trip as it faces another must-win contest in its search of a playoff appearance.

Evansville leads the Turner Conference with 70 points, followed by Fort Wayne (67), Missouri (61), Rapid City (59) and Quad City (57).

The top four teams make the playoffs, which leaves one quality team on the outside looking in.

“We want to get to Dayton, have a day to rest and get ready and go out and find a way to win at a tough place to play on the road,” Hillman said. “Five points separate the three teams fighting for that last playoff spot, and it could go down to the last week of the season.”

The Mavericks are facing their second four-games-in-five-day stretch this week playing at Dayton, coming home at 7:05 p.m. Saturday and playing Wichita, going to Wichita on Sunday and Tulsa  on Tuesday.

“We got used to a grind like that last week when we had the same kind of schedule,” said forward Ed McGrane, as the Mavericks were 1-2-1 in that four-game stretch.

“Naturally, we want to do better this week. Dayton isn’t in the playoff hunt (with a 17-24-10 record), so they’ll want to play the spoiler role for the teams who are looking to play in the postseason.”

Much of the team’s success could rest with iron-man goaltender Charlie Effinger, who is 23-11-3 with a 2.76 goals against average and a CHL-high 1,164 saves this season.

“Charlie has been amazing,” McGrane said. “We have so much confidence with Charlie in the net. When you see a guy work as hard as he works, it makes you want to work that much harder.”

Effinger played a key role in the Mavericks unlikely run to the postseason in the club’s inaugural season and is savoring every game this year.

“Every game is huge, you just such a great adrenaline rush,” Effinger said. “We’re all on the same page, all committed to one thing – and only one thing – and that’s make the playoffs.”