Missouri Mavericks coach Scott Hillman wants to make one thing perfectly clear. There is no goaltender controversy on his Central Hockey League team.
Missouri Mavericks coach Scott Hillman wants to make one thing perfectly clear.
There is no goaltender controversy on his Central Hockey League team.
When he pulled Gerry Festa from goal Friday night, with the Mavericks trailing 4-2, Hillman said he was simply doing what he felt was best for the team.
Newcomer Charlie Effinger went into the net, stopped 20 of 20 shots and rallied the Mavericks to an improbable 5-4 victory over the Tulsa Oilers.
“It was a case of a teammate picking up another teammate,” Hillman said, after Festa gave up a goal in the closing seconds of the first period and was then bombarded for three goals until Effinger came onto the ice with 7:32 left in the period.
“We needed a spark and Charlie gave it to us. Gerry just wasn’t seeing the puck the way he normally does. I have not lost any confidence in Gerry – and I told him that in the locker room.
“I wasn’t anxious to change goaltenders, but I had to do something. The boys just hung him out to dry, and I certainly hope it doesn’t happen again.”
Effinger, who improved to 13-4 overall and 5-1 with the Mavericks, lowered his league-best goals goals against average of 2.39 by not allowing a goal in 27:32 of shutout action.
“It’s a great win for the team, I don’t care who was in the net,” Effinger said. “I have one goal with this team, and only one goal – helping my teammates reach the playoffs.
“And we got a step closer tonight.”
When Effinger came into the game, he received a loud cheer from the sold-out crowd of 5,728.
“No one was cheering as loud as I was,” said Festa, who was gracious and thoughtful after the big win. “I was just cheering mentally.
“It was a tough night and I am very disappointed in the way I played. But I guarantee everyone that the next time I am called upon, I will be ready to give it everything I have.”
How refreshing to hear three grown men talk about a potentially explosive situation, on a team that’s vying for a playoff spot, with common sense and compassion.
“The way I look at it,” Hillman said, “it’s like the guys picking up a teammate on a penalty kill situation. Charlie came in and picked up Gerry and the other guys responded and we got a big win.
“They say good teams find a way to overcome adversity and overcame second period adversity for the second game in a row. But we cannot keep performing like we have in the second period the past two games (a 4-3 come-from-behind shootout win over Mississippi Tuesday night following a dreadful second period) and expect to remain in the hunt for the playoffs.”
Tuesday’s win was emotion charged.
Friday’s was simply beyond relief, as the Mavs blew a 2-0 lead and looked like novices through the second period.
I tip my hat to Hillman for being able to make a tough decision in goal and rallying the troops for a third period miracle.
“We just keep finding a way to win,” said forward Jeff MacDermid, who tied the game at 4-all at 11:15 of the third period.
“It would be nice to get a win where we all could relax a little bit. But hey, we’ll take any win we can get.”