• Clemente's heroics finally lift Mavs past Wichita

  • The line wrapped halfway around the Independence Events Center as eager Missouri Mavericks fans waited for the man of the hour.

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  • The line wrapped halfway around the Independence Events Center as eager Missouri Mavericks fans waited for the man of the hour.
    Rookie goaltender Mike Clemente, who turned in his first Mavericks shutout on New Year's Eve – downing Tulsa 1-0 at the IEC – was the postgame autograph guest Friday night following a dramatic 49-save, 4-2 victory over rival Wichita before a sold-out crowd of 5,800.
    As the last few fans in line saw Clemente approach the autograph table, they began to applaud. Soon, applause filled the Events Center concourse as Clemente grinned and took a seat at the table.
    “This is amazing,” said Clemente, who faced a team-record 25 shots in the second period alone (giving up one power-play goal). “It's the first time we've beat Wichita this year, but we came close the last two times we faced them (losing in overtime each game).
    “Our fans deserve this one. The guys did a great job helping me out and this is a great way to start a big weekend.”
    The win gives the 17-11-4 Mavericks 38 points. They are a point behind third-place Denver (18-12-3), who lost 5-3 at Quad City Friday night. If the Mavericks can beat the Cutthroats at 7:05 p.m. Saturday at the IEC, they will jump into third place.
    “We have the chance to have a four-point weekend,” Mavericks coach Scott Hillman said after Clemente's play helped the team claim a win despite a 21-8 minute difference in penalty minutes.
    “The second period was amazing, just amazing,” Hillman said. “They're basically on the power play nine consecutive minutes and the boys find a way to allow just one goal.
    “I don't even know what to say about Clemer any more. Tonight, it was Clemente, Clemente, Clemente. He's making saves on his back, he's making body saves, pad saves, glove saves – and the boys are throwing their bodies in front of shots too.
    “That's what a team does when it wants to do everything possible to help the goalie. There is a great deal of mutual respect between Clemer and the boys. They know what he means to us right now. He means everything to this team.”
    The win gave Clemente a 14-4-3 overall record and allowed him to pass Wichita's Kevin Regan for the most wins in the league. They entered the game with 13 wins each.
    “I've never seen anything like Clemer in that second period,” said injured defenseman David Simoes, who watched the game from the press box. “He made stops that I didn't believe when I saw them, and I still don't believe them.”
    It didn't take long for the Mavericks to get going offensively as Colt King scored two minutes into the first period.
    Page 2 of 2 - John-Scott Dickson added a goal to give Clemente some breathing room and the Mavericks a 2-0 lead.
    But Wichta made it a 2-1 game on RG Flath's power-play goal in the second period. Missouri's Andrew Courtney was called for boarding and a game misconduct, yet the Mavericks kept Wichita off the scoreboard during a five-minute penalty kill.
    “Everyone contributed tonight,” said CHL scoring leader Sebastien Thinel, who had a third-period goal to give him 51 points this season. “It sucks that we haven't played better against Wichita this season (1-3-2).
    “But we finally beat them and gave our fans a reason to smile. We will all feel good, feel energized going into tomorrow's game against Denver.
    When asked if Clemente would again be in the net, Hillman smiled and said, “He keeps telling me, 'Coach, I'm 22! I'm young! Keep me in there.' So yes, he will be in the net.”
    Kenton Miller scored the Mavericks’ final goal with four minutes left in the game.

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