By Bill Althaus
Sitting on a shelf inside Andrew Courtney's Missouri Mavericks locker are two milestone pucks.
What makes the single-season-tying 35th goal and record-breaking 36th goal pucks even more special is the simple fact that they came in a 5-3 victory Saturday night at the BOK Center in Tulsa.
“It's great that they came in a win,” said Courtney, who will join his fellow teammates on the ice at 7:05 tonight when the Brampton Beast visit the Independence Events Center in the final home game of the 2014-2015 season. “We are all disappointed that we haven't had a better season. Tomorrow night will be my fifth final regular-season home game, and it will be the first time it will be the last home game of the season because we always made the playoffs.
“Overall, it's been a disappointing season. But the last couple of weeks have been pretty exciting because we have a lot of new guys who are really making an impact on the team. Tyler Currier and Lindsay Sparks are great young players and you just hope they'll be a part of the team next year. We all want to be a part of the team next year - we're playing for our jobs next season - and only time will tell what's going to happen.”
Courtney set the Mavericks' single-season goal mark in 2013-214. Despite getting off to a slow start this year with a back injury, he has caught fire recently to again rewrite the team's record book.
“I didn't skate at all in preseason because of my back,” Courtney said. “I didn't get off to a very good start, and now, I think we're all playing better. We have had so many guys on the team this year, and the group we have now is really playing well together.”
He also had to get accustomed to first-year coach Richard Matvichuk's system, which found Courtney with his back to the net, attempting to do the dirty work near the crease that helped lead to his record-breaking season.
“I like Matti's system,” Courtney said. “We're all more comfortable with it now, and we're scoring a few more goals. None of us wish this season was over – we really wish it was just beginning because we really feel more confident out on the ice.”
Courtney gave the Mavericks a 1-0 lead just 3:06 into the first period Saturday off feeds from Brett Stovin and Sebastien Thinel. That was the record-tying goal.
The Oilers answered back and knotted the score at 1-all on a Jeff Jubinville goal at 12:34. Tulsa then took the lead at 15:15 on a short-handed goal from Jon Booras. Rookie Brandon Jaeger, making his pro debut after being called up as an emergency backup on March 29, allowed the two goals.
“Not a very good start, but a good finish – especially with the win,” Jaeger, a Champlin, Minn., native who played collegiately at Wisconsin-Stevens Point, said Monday afternoon at the Independence Events Center. “I was nervous. It was my first pro game and I wanted to make a good impression.
“It was great when Courts scored the first goal, then I felt like I let the boys down giving up two goals. But the guys were great. They were really supportive, and I felt like I played pretty well the rest of the night.”
Trailing 2-1 to start the second period, the Mavs made their move midway through the frame with Courtney's second goal of the night - the record breaker - off assists from Colten Hayes and Thinel. Currier gave Missouri the 3-2 lead with a short-handed goal at 14:40.
Ludwig Karlsson padded the lead to 4-2 off assists from Sparks and Matt Stephenson and Thinel, but the game was far from over as Jubinville scored a short-handed goal with just 42 seconds left in the game.
Tulsa then pulled goaltender Brandon Anderson, and Thinel scored an empty-netter to account for the final score.