In the Missouri Mavericks’ first three seasons, the club battled for a playoff with a clear-cut No. 1 goaltender.

In the Missouri Mavericks’ first three seasons, the club battled for a playoff with a clear-cut No. 1 goaltender.

The first and third years, fan favorite Charlie Effinger was in the net.?The second year, then unknown Robbie Nolan, who eventually won the CHL’s Most Outstanding Goaltender honor, starred in goal.

This season, coach Scott Hillman is blessed with two No. 1 goaltenders in rookies Mike Clemente, who led the Central Hockey League in wins (25) and saves (1,165), and Mathieu Corbeil, who spent much of the season traveling between the team’s AHL affiliate Chicago and Independence and healing following an early-season injury.

“I would totally agree ... when you say we have two No. 1 guys, because we do,” Hillman said following a lengthy Wednesday morning practice session as the team prepare for its opening game of the playoffs, which is scheduled for 8:05 p.m. Friday in Rapid City.

“Where would we have been this season without Clemmer?” Hillman asked as Clemente finished the regular season with a 25-15-4 record and 3.25 goals-against average. “He was our rock. He was always there for us. Corbeil was injured, and then spent all that time in Chicago, and now that he’s back, he’s been amazing. He had the only shutout against Allen (4-0 last Saturday) and he has our only win at Rapid City (3-1, stopping 48 of 49 shots early in the season).

“Clemmer has more time and more wins, but every time Mathieu has played lately, he has done really well. You can tell the boys have faith in either one of them. And right now, I don’t know what the plan will be in the playoffs.

“One might play seven the first series and the other might play seven in the next. If one wins, that doesn’t necessarily mean he will start the next game, and if one loses, it doesn’t necessarily mean he won’t play the next game. You just have to get a feel for it.

“I know Mathieu likes to know when he’s playing. Clemmer does too. But they both know that whoever is in the net when we open, they both are going to play a big role in our playoff success.”

It’s not just the coach who has confidence in the goalie duo, it’s the guys who play in front of them.

“What can you say about Mike that hasn’t been said?” defenseman Dave Pszenyczny asked. “We’d do anything for that kid. He was here all season, he played when forwards were playing defense, guys were hurt, he never complained or pointed a finger at anyone. He’s the type of goalie you’d die for.

“Corbeil stood on his head in that win at Allen. He was amazing. He stops all the shots he should stop and then stops the shots he shouldn’t. He can be spectacular. They are just a great combination. We have faith in both of them, and we’re going to need both of them in the playoffs.”

Defenseman Jesse Perrin agrees.

“Both of them had success in college and now they’re having success as pros,” Perrin said. “With Mathieu spending so much time away from the team, we are lucky to have Mike. He’s been amazing all season and now that Mathieu is back, he’s been amazing, too. You want to go into the playoffs with one great goalie, and we are lucky enough to have two.”

They proved that point Wednesday, as practice ended with a shootout session that brought out the best in each goalie.

When Corbeil made a spectacular stop on Rookie of the Year candidate Kenton Miller, he jokingly asked a photographer, “Did you get that? That needs to be on YouTube.”

Following practice, the two goalies discussed their rookie seasons and what they want to bring to the playoffs.

“Well, this season didn’t go as I had hoped,” said Corbeil, who was 10-9-1 with a 2.69 goals-against average and .915 save percentage. “I was hurt early, then I kept getting called up to Chicago, where I learned a lot but never got to play. I was a part of what, 20 games with this team? Now, I’m back and I can’t wait for the playoffs. Hockey is hard, really hard, and this is why you play.

“I’m really excited. We’re healthy and excited about going to Rapid City.”

When asked about Clemente, Corbeil smiled.

“We are good friends and good teammates,” Corbeil said. “I have so much respect for Mike. He has meant a lot to this team this year because I have missed so many games. I know Scott is going to use both of us in the playoffs, we just have to see how it all plays out. I’m going to talk to coach and try to get some idea of how he plans to use us.

“Whatever he wants to do, we will both be ready.”

Clemente, who played in a stretch of 19 consecutive games this season, said he is thrilled to have Corbeil back with the team .

“To have success in the playoffs, you need two goalies,” Clemente said. “We’re good friends and we feed off each other. I’ve learned a lot from watching him. You can see how much better he is from all the AHL experience he got this season.

“This is my first seven-game playoff series and I can’t wait. I know he’s fired up and excited, too. Whatever Coach wants us to do, we’ll do it.”

Clemente grins when a list of his season accomplishments is read off in the locker room. Yet he never takes himself too seriously.

“(Leading the league in wins) doesn’t mean anything now,” Clemente said. “I want to lead the playoffs in wins. Now, that would mean something.”