• Mavericks say farewell to fans

  • Scott Hillman smiled, shook hands, posed for photos and signed everything from a pink cell phone to a team portrait that featured the Missouri Mavericks 2013 playoff roster.

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  • Scott Hillman smiled, shook hands, posed for photos and signed everything from a pink cell phone to a team portrait that featured the Missouri Mavericks 2013 playoff roster.
    Fans wanted to know who was coming back, how he felt about the Game 7 loss to Allen in the CHL semifinals and what he planned to do this summer.
    The mood was bittersweet as most of the more than 1,000 fans who converged on the Independence Events Center Monday night for the annual good-bye party knew this might be the last time they would be able to see their favorite players – especially the young guns like Kenton Miller, Kellan Tochkin, Mike Clemente and Mathieu Corbeil.
    When he had a break, Hillman leaned back in his folding chair and took a deep breath.
    “The (7-3) loss in Game 7 is a little bit harder to take than the losses the three previous years,” said Hillman, who has led the Mavericks to the postseason in each of their four years in the CHL.
    “We built a team for the playoffs, and we were playing our best hockey. It’s going to take a while to get over the loss, but an event like this certainly helps. Our fans are amazing – no negative comments tonight – not one!
    “I think when I see their positive response it makes it even more disappointing that we were not at least able to make it to the championship round. We lost in Game 7 last year to Fort Wayne and we lost in Game 7 this year and it gets harder year after year.
    “But I told them, we are going to build a great team next year and we hope to have a solid nucleus back from this year’s team.
    Several veterans said they hope to be back in 2013-2014, including CHL MVP Sebastien Thinel, veteran forward Ryan Jardine and enforcer Colt King.
    “I have my interview with Hilly in the morning, and if they want me back, I want to come back,” Thinel said. “I have some unfinished business in this league. I want to win a championship, and I believe we can do it next year.”
    Jardine added, “I can’t have that loss in Game 7 be my last professional game,” Jardine said. “All season long, it was ‘this is my last season,’ but I talked to (my wife) Amanda and now I think we might come back next season.”
    King, who was plagued by injuries all season, said he wants to claim his second CHL championship.
    “I only have one Rapid City jersey and it’s the one I wore when we won the championship,” said King, whose Rush team knocked the first-year Mavericks out of the playoffs in 2010. “We can win it all next year and I want to be a part of it.”
    Page 2 of 2 - So do the fans.
    “We attended every game this year,” said Independence resident Molly Clemons, who attended the going away bash with her husband Ron, “and it’s fun to come and see the players up close and talk with them.
    “This is such a personable team and a great organization. I just love it – win or lose – when they all gather on the ice at the end of the game and salute the fans.”
    Todd Johns, who fed the Mavericks some of his grand champion barbecue during the playoffs, was excited about winning a Miller jersey in the postseason raffle.
    “The kid’s going to be in the NHL someday,” said Johns, as his boys Christian and Michael posed for a photo with Clemente. “Last season was great and next year is going to be even better.”
    That’s a phrase that was mentioned over and over again Monday night.
    “We have a bond with this team like no other team,” Linda Major said. “They’re our boys and we came tonight to tell them how much we appreciate them and how much we’re going to miss then when they leave.
    “They mean the world to us.”

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