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Examiner
  • Courtney, Mavericks break out

  • When Andrew Courtney said, “I was feeling it,” he wasn't talking about the gash on his lower lip that provided a steady flow of blood down his chin during a postgame interview session.

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  • When Andrew Courtney said, “I was feeling it,” he wasn't talking about the gash on his lower lip that provided a steady flow of blood down his chin during a postgame interview session.
    The Missouri Mavericks forward was talking about being in scoring zone, as his hat trick and some early magic in the net from goaltender Mike Clemente paved the way for a 6-4 victory over the Denver Cutthroats Wednesday night at the Independence Events Center.
    In a game coach Scott Hillman called “a must win,” the Mavericks starred offensively and defensively until the Cutthroats scored two meaningless goals in the final 30 seconds of the game.
    Entering the game, the Mavericks and Cutthroats were tied for fifth place with 64 points. Missouri is now alone in fifth place with 66 points and trails fourth-place Rapid City by four points.
    The top four teams in the Central Hockey league have home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs.
    “Coach called this a must win and we responded tonight,” said Courtney, who played a complete game for the first time since he missed 11 games with a lower body injury. “I played about 95 percent of my shifts, and I felt good out there. I was feeling it. I had some good scoring opportunities and the puck went our way tonight. And we had to reward Mike, the way he was playing in the net. He was incredible, especially in the second period.”
    Courtney, who also had an assist to finish with four points, was the victim of a high-sticking penalty after he scored his first goal. He went into the locker room between periods, received three stitches and returned to score goals in the second and third periods. It was his second career hat trick with the Mavericks.
    The Mavericks’ magic number to make the playoffs is now five points, and any combination of Maverick wins and Bloomington Blaze losses that add up to five points will result in a fourth straight playoff berth for Missouri.
    “We want to play with this same intensity the rest of the season,” Hillman said after the Mavericks improved to 30-23-6. “We desperately needed two points tonight and the boys went out and got them.
    “Courts showed what he means to this team tonight. That is why we were so pleased to get him back (after a stint in the East Coast Hockey League). You could just tell that he was on his game. And Millsie (Kenton Miller) and Sebbie (Sebastien Thinel) had big games, too. There was a playoff atmosphere tonight and the boys responded.”
    Miller had two goals and Thinel, the CHL scoring leader, had three assists to pump his league-leading point total to 86.
    “We haven’t been playing like a team contending for a playoff berth, and that’s bothered the captain (Thinel),” Hillman said. “I'm sure he's happy with the way we played tonight.”
    Page 2 of 2 - Thinel came out of the locker room sporting a big smile.
    “This is how we need to play the rest of the season, especially when we play them again Friday,” Thinel said. “We need to come out with the same intensity and confidence.”
    Clemente said the Mavericks won’t be too confident, though, after Denver notched the two late goals.
    “We can use those late goals to our advantage,” said Clemente, whose brilliant performance in the second period coincided with a Courtney goal just 30 seconds into play. “Denver is so dangerous offensively, and they proved it late in the game. If we win 6-2, who knows, maybe we don't take them as seriously Friday night as we will now. They're a team we have to beat, and we were able to do it tonight.”
    The Mavericks and Cutthroats will play again at 7:05 p.m. Friday at the IEC. The first 1,500 fans in attendance will receive a Colt King bobblehead. Missouri will wear St. Patrick’s Day-themed jerseys that will be auctioned off after the game to benefit the Community Services League.
    Follow Bill Althaus on Twitter: @AlthausEJC
     
     

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