When the Missouri Mavericks began a three-games-in-three-days stretch last Friday at the Independence Events Center, Scott Hillman had high hopes for his first-year Central Hockey League team.

“Every night is like a playoff game for the boys,” Hillman said.

When the Missouri Mavericks began a three-games-in-three-days stretch last Friday at the Independence Events Center, Scott Hillman had high hopes for his first-year Central Hockey League team.


“Every night is like a playoff game for the boys,” Hillman said, “and so far, they have responded beyond my expectations. Let’s just hope they keep performing like they have, because the fans in this community deserve a playoff team.”


The Mavs opened with a 5-4 come-from-behind win over Tulsa Friday night, then downed visiting Wichita 4-3 in overtime on Saturday at the Events Center and wrapped up the huge three-game set with a 4-2 victory over the defending CHL champion, the Texas Brahams, Sunday afternoon at the NYTEX Sports Center near Dallas.


The Mavericks got two goals from Brett Hammond and three assists from Todd Paul to claim their fourth straight victory Sunday, and their eighth in their last nine games.


Coupled with that home win over Wichita Saturday, the Mavericks moved to within a point of fourth-place Mississippi and put more distance between themselves and sixth-place Tulsa in the battle for the fifth and final playoff spot in the Central Hockey League’s Northern Conference.


The Mavericks are 28-23-4 and are four points ahead of the Oilers in the Northern Conference. With 60 points, they’re now just one behind Mississippi.


Goaltender Charlie Effinger stopped 32 of 34 shots Sunday to improve to 7-1 with the Mavericks. He is the No. 1 rated goaltender in the CHL.


“Charlie has been amazing since he joined the team,” Hillman said, “and Sunday, well, there were times he was just amazing. He made some stops I saw, but I didn’t believe.”


After falling behind 2-1 Sunday, Hammond scored consecutive power-play goals. His first came on assists from Simon Watson and Paul at the 9:14 mark of the second period. He then got what proved to be the game-winner just more than eight minutes later on assists from Mike Burgoyne and Paul.


Braden Walls capped Sunday’s win with with an unassisted empty-net goal with just one second left. That came after Effinger and the Mavericks held off an onslaught from the Brahmas in the third period.


Texas outshot Missouri 18-5 in the period but couldn’t get the puck past Effinger, who now has a 2.36 goals-against average since coming to the Mavericks in a trade to complete an earlier deal that sent defenseman Sean Perkins to the Allen Americans.


Toby Lafrance scored the first goal at 11:43 of the first period as a Texas penalty was just expiring. Paul and Karl Sellan earned assists on the play.


“It’s not just me, everyone is playing great right now,” Effinger said. “We’re having fun and really playing as a team. Every guy cares about every other guy on the team.”


On Saturday in front of a capacity crowd of 5,800 at the Independence Events Center, the Mavericks overcame a two-goal deficit for the second straight night in the 4-3 overtime win over Wichita.


Jared Lavender scored the game-winner just 27 seconds into overtime on assists from Sellan and Lafrance. Lavender beat Wichita goalie Scott


Campbell with a wrist shot from the right circle to send the fans home happy for the third straight night.


Jeff Christian scored a goal and tallied two assists to lead the comeback from a 2-0 deficit.


Tomas Klempa scored the first of his two goals to give Wichita a 2-0 advantage at the 10:40 mark of the first period.


Paul got the Mavericks on the scoreboard first, scoring following passes from Christian and Nick Sirota. Christian then snuck a wrist shot from a sharp angle past Campbell to tie it 2-2.


Kyle Bochek put the Mavericks ahead at the 4:14 mark, chasing down a puck in the corner behind the goal line and banking it off the padding of Campbell.


Jordan Foreman earned an assist on the play.


The Mavericks held on to the lead until Klempa snuck the puck under Effiinger’s padding from the right side of the net.


Lavender then got the game-winner early in overtime as the Mavericks outshot the Thunder a whopping 42-17. The Mavs held Wichita to just seven shots on goal over the final two periods.


At 7:05 tonight, the Mavs return to the Events Center for a game against the Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees, a team they have yet to beat this season.


“We’re 0-1-1 against them and need to come out strong and take care of business Tuesday,” Hillman said. “It’s nice to be back home. Playing at the NYTEX Center was very demanding. First, they’re a great team and they play in a 2,200 seat arena that is very loud. Their ice might be bit smaller too – but the guys responded to the challenge and we came home with two huge points.”