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Examiner
  • Mavs feel fortunate entering playoffs

  • One statistic, that can't be found on a scoreboard or in a record book, keeps gnawing at Missouri Mavericks coach Scott Hillman as his team prepares for the playoffs and the Rapid City Rush.

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  • One statistic, that can't be found on a scoreboard or in a record book, keeps gnawing at Missouri Mavericks coach Scott Hillman as his team prepares for the playoffs and the Rapid City Rush.
    The stat: 170 games missed due to injury.
    “That's just incredible,” Hillman said Monday morning as he and assistant director of hockey operations Simon Watson and a few players, who were getting treatment, were the only individuals in the Independence Events Center.
    “When you see a number like that, it makes you feel lucky to even be thinking about the playoffs, let alone finishing in fifth place. We had players miss 170 games due to injuries. I've never seen a stat like that.
    “We were never really healthy the entire season, we had guys playing out of position, playing longer shifts, and no one ever complained.
    “But now, we are healthy. We rested some players at the end of the season because we want to be ready, healthy to go for the playoffs. We want to show everyone that we have a good team, a playoff-caliber team.
    “I've never been as proud of a group of players as I have been of this group this season.”
    The Mavericks experienced a roller-coaster season that ended with a roller-coaster ride of epic proportions this past weekend as Mathieu Corbeil registered the first shutout of the season against No. 1 Allen with a 4-0 victory Saturday night on the Americans’ home ice.
    The Mavericks needed a win or an overtime loss Sunday in Wichita to finish in fourth place and claim home ice for the opening round of the playoffs, but they lost 5-2 to the Thunder. Corbeil was also in the net for that contest.
    “It could have been a great, great weekend,” Hillman said as the Mavericks finished with a 35-25-6 record during regular-season play. “I'm personally disappointed in the fifth-place finish. But I am so proud of what this team overcame.
    “And now, we are going to have everyone on the playoff roster healthy and ready to go.”
    That includes Dave Pszenyczny, Trevor Kell and Colt King, who all missed the weekend with lower body injuries. Pszenyczny and Kell had been on the injured reserve list.
    “I'm ready,” Pszenyczny said Monday morning. “I'm more than ready. We wanted home ice, but I like our format. Two games there on Friday and Saturday then back here for three games. They're the top seed, they have all the pressure because they know they need to win both games at Rapid or we come home with the home ice.
    “And with our fans, and the energy in this building, anything can happen.”
    It was a big weekend for two Mavericks rookies as Corbeil registered his second shutout of the season and the first by any opponent against Allen.
    Page 2 of 3 - Rookie of the Year finalist Kenton Miller scored two goals to set a single-season mark of 30. He added an assist for a three-point game in the win at Allen.
    CHL MVP Sebastien Thinel (see related story) added two goals and an assist to finished as the CHL scoring champion for a record-breaking third time in his career.
    Thinel scored the Mavericks' first two goals, both at even strength, and Miller scored the final two goals, both with the man-advantage. Thinel's two goals were scored just 2:28 apart in the opening period.
    He redirected a pass from Josh Hepditch at 5:06 to put Missouri up 1-0, and then he beat Allen goaltender Aaron Dell to the short side at 7:34. At that point, Thinel had tied the Mavericks' single season record for goals with his 29th of the season.
    Miller tied Thinel and the Mavericks' single season record with his 29th goal on the power play late in the second period. The goal came with just 13 seconds remaining and while the Mavs had a two-man advantage. Miller scored the record-breaking goal at 8:53 of the third period on an assist from Brandon Smith.
    He becomes the first Maverick to have a 30-goal season, and he accomplished the feat in just 52 games played.
    “Millsie (Miller) doesn't even know how good he can be,” Thinel said Monday afternoon. “He's 21 and he plays like a veteran. I've enjoyed playing on the same line with him this season.”
    Allen outshot the Mavericks in all three periods and 36-22 overall, but Corbeil stopped all 36 shots for Missouri, and Dell, the top-rated goalie in the CHL who won this year's Most Outstanding Goalie award, was replaced by Steve Silverthorn following the Mavericks' fourth goal.
    It was a much different story Sunday in Wichita.
    Forwards Kellan Tochkin and John-Scott Dickson each had a goal for Missouri as the Mavericks finished 2-5-3 against the Thunder this season.
    Wichita defenseman Kevin Young had a pair of goals as the Thunder finished just one point shy of the regular-season title.
    Wichita took a 3-0 lead less than eight minutes into the game. Young scored at 5:06, Erick Lizon scored at 6:11 and Ian Lowe scored on the power play at 7:57. Missouri made it 3-1 before the end of the first period when Dickson tipped a shot by Tochkin past Wichita goaltender Torrie Jung.
    Wichita made it 4-1 on a goal by Chad Painchaud just 1:43 into the second period, but Missouri still battled. Tochkin buried a backhand on a rebound at 9:56 to cut the deficit to 4-2, but that was as close as the Mavericks got.
    Young scored the only goal of the third period on a breakaway as he was left alone coming out of the penalty box.
    Page 3 of 3 - Playoff tickets are on sale now at all Ticketmaster outlets and the Silverstein Eye Centers Box Office at Independence Events Center. Visit www.MissouriMavericks.com for more information.
    Follow Bill Althaus on Twitter: @AlthausEJC
     
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