• Mavs feel positive vibes after successful week

  • What a difference a week makes.

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  • What a difference a week makes.
    Just ask any of the Missouri Mavericks, who competed at a frenzied, yet lighthearted, pace at Tuesday morning's practice.
    Coach Scott Hillman and assistant director of hockey operations Simon Watson couldn't keep the smiles off their faces as they watched the team skate through a gamelike shootout scenario that often drew a standing ovation from the die-hard fans who attend the sessions at the Independence Events Center.
    “The boys are having fun, and we're winning, and that's a great combination,” Hillman said as the Mavericks have won five in a row, including a crowd-pleasing 3-2 victory over Quad City Saturday night at the Events Center.
    That win was the highlight of last week's four-game, four-win set that saw the 11-8-2 Mavericks climb out of the cellar and into sixth place in the CHL.
    “It's not much fun looking at the standings and seeing your team at the bottom,” said goaltender Mike Clemente, who has been in the net for all five Maverick victories. “Now, you look at we're right in the middle, and hopefully, we'll be at the top real soon.”
    The Mavericks have two home games this weekend, taking on Arizona at 7:05 p.m. Friday (which features a game-worn jersey auction after the game) and Bloomington at the same time Saturday night. The Mavericks host their annual teddy bear toss Saturday night, with fans encouraged to bring stuffed animals to throw on the ice following the Mavericks’ first goal.
    The stuffed animals are then donated to local charities.
    “We need to string some wins together at home,” said Hillman, whose team is 3-5 on the home ice. “I think the boys found out Saturday that if you just come out and play, and keep it simple, good things happen.
    “They've been trying so hard to win at home, that they might have been trying a bit too hard. All they have to do is look at the road, and follow the same road to success.”
    And that road to success is simple.
    “Unpack your gear, go out on the ice, keep it simple and find a way to win,” said captain Sebastien Thinel, who leads the CHL with 32 points. “You don't have to make everything look pretty or try to make that extra pass. You just play the game the way it was meant to be played and good things are going to happen.
    “There is so much talent in our locker room. We have a lot of new players on the team, and they are fitting in well. It's exciting to be on a winning streak, and to have last Saturday's win at home.
    Page 2 of 2 - “Now, we have to start a home winning streak, and that's when the fans are really going to get excited.”
    Thinel added that even the opponents might get excited.
    “Opposing teams love to play at the Events Center, because of our crowds,” the captain added. “You go to an arena with no fans and you feel kind of sorry for the teams that have to play in front of those crowds.
    “There is no excitement, no energy. We get energy from our fans, and we want to keep them happy with a lot more home wins this season.”
    Clemente, a CHL rookie, said the atmosphere at the Events Center is deafening.
    “During the Minute of Madness,” he said, referring to the first minute of the third period, “It's so loud out on the ice you can't hear a thing. There are times, it's so loud my ears hurt. It's the most awesome feeling. You don't get that anywhere else in the CHL.
    “No wonder we've been the CHL Franchise of the Year the last two years, we have the best fans – the noisiest and most passionate fans I've played for.”
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