There wasn’t an empty seat in the house Monday night at the Rib Crib as the Missouri Mavericks hosted a playoff party for an enthusiastic group of fans who lined up out the door and into the parking lot.

There wasn’t an empty seat in the house Monday night at the Rib Crib as the Missouri Mavericks hosted a playoff party for an enthusiastic group of fans who lined up out the door and into the parking lot.

“I’ll say it now, and I’ll keep saying it,” Missouri goaltender Charlie Effinger said, “we have the best fans in the CHL. If there are this many people here tonight, can you imagine how many are going to be at the (Independence) Events Center Wednesday night?”

The Mavericks, who finished with 84 points and in third place in the Turner Conference, will host Evansville at 7:05 p.m. Wednesday. Tickets in all price ranges remain for the game.

Because of scheduling problems at both arenas, the first series of the playoffs will have a 1-2-1-1-1-1 format, with the first, fourth and sixth games at the Events Center and back-to-back games Friday and Saturday nights at Evansville, followed by Games 5 and 7 at Evansville, if the series lasts that long.
“I don’t care when it starts, I wish today was Wednesday,” said Mavericks all-star forward Andrew Courtney, who missed the playoffs last season with an injury.

“I can’t even tell you how excited I am, and being here tonight with all our fans gets me even more excited. We found out what the playoffs would be like with our last two games against Tulsa (see related story).

“Evansville is a great team, and we’re going to have to play our best to get past them. But I’m confident we can. We’ve worked too hard all season to not play well in the playoffs.”

Effinger will play a huge role in how far the Mavericks advance in the playoffs as the IceMen have the league scoring champion in forward Todd Robinson and three of the top offensive defensemen.
“Charlie’s our MVP,” said Mavericks scoring leader Sebastien Thinel. “With Charlie in the net, we can beat any team.”

Effinger, who had started 28 games in a row before getting two games off late in the season with the arrival of B.J. O’Brien, led the CHL with 32 wins and 1,620 saves.

“I’m ready,” Effinger said. “I’d be ready if the playoffs started tonight. Defense and playing smart hockey will be a key to the success of both teams.”

Defenseman David Simoes, who was voted the Toughest Player (pound for pound) in the CHL, agrees.

“We can’t spend any time in the box, or a team like Evansville will take advantage of that,” Simoes said. “They’re a very good team, and so are we. It should be a great playoff series.”

NEW ADDITION: Mavericks players introduced newcomer Kevin Noble, an amateur defenseman, to their fans Monday night at the Rib Crib. He arrived in Independence this afternoon from Erie, Pa.
“This is amazing,” he said, when asked about the crowd at the playoff party. “I can’t wait to see what it’s like Wednesday.”