Sebastien Thinel is Houdini on ice skates.

Sebastien Thinel is Houdini on ice skates.

The Missouri Mavericks forward is a magician when it comes to scoring points and assisting on teammates’ goals, but he has never been able to pull a championship trophy out of a hat.

That can all change tonight, as Thinel, who set a Mavericks scoring record with 82 points this season, will play in his 95th career postseason game when the Mavericks play host to Evansville at 7:05 p.m. at the Independence Events Center.

“You play 66 games during the regular season, and it all comes down to the final month when you play the most important games – the playoff games,” Thinel said after Tuesday morning’s practice session.

“It’s like six months for one month, and it’s been a tough road getting here. The last six weeks have been like playoffs, so all the young guys on the team know what it’s like.

“And the last weekend was like playoffs when we had to win one of the final three games to make sure we make the playoffs.”

The Mavericks downed Bloomington 5-3 Friday night at the IEC, then won a crazy 5-4 game over a Tulsa team that was fighting for its playoff life Saturday night at the Events Center.

“That game was like a playoff game, because if Tulsa won, they were still alive for the playoffs,” Thinel said. “In a way, I felt sorry for the team. Their coach got kicked out, a player got kicked out, they were desperate. But we still needed to win even though we were in (the postseason) because we wanted to finish with the best possible record and earn the home advantage in the first round.”

The Mavericks and IceMen both finished with 84 points, but Evansville had one more victory in the regular season to claim second place, while Missouri finished in third place and will host three of the possible seven playoff games.

Because of arena availability, the playoffs will start at the IEC then go to Evansville for games Friday and Saturday nights. The playoffs will return to the IEC on Monday with three games remaining – one at home and two on the road, if necessary in the best-of-seven format.

“We need to win at home Wednesday,” Thinel said. “And I believe we can. This is going to be tough mentally, but we have a mentally tough team, even though we are a young team.

“We all have so much faith in Charlie (Effinger, the goaltender who led the CHL with 32 wins). And it all begins with him. Evansville has the league scoring leader (Todd Robinson) and two of the highest scoring defenders in the league. So our defense has to be as strong as it has been all season.

“We go into the playoffs with a lot of momentum because we have won four in a row, including all three games last weekend. It’s been fun to see the young guys grow up this season, to see them get used to big games.

“I’ve been in many playoff games, and I’ve been on teams that were supposed to win it all. But the game is different on ice than it is on paper. That’s why you play, and we’re all excited about playing Wednesday night.”

And no one on the Mavericks wants to see the veteran who has scored more than 700 points in the CHL get that first championship more than his former Odessa teammate and Mavericks coach, Scott Hillman.

“Sebbie has done it all,” Hillman said, “except experience the joy and excitement of raising that cup above his head after winning a championship. You can sense a real determination on his part, and that rubs off on the younger guys. It rubs off on everyone.”

“Graner (Ed McGrane) and Pszezy (Dave Pszenyczny) have championships and they want everyone on this team to experience that feeling.”

TICKETS AVAILABLE: There are tickets available in all price ranges for tonight’s playoff game.

“I think because we sold out so many home games this season, fans might think that there are no seats available for the playoff game,” Hillman said. “We had a great turnout at the Rib Crib Monday night for the playoff party and we want to fill the arena for the playoff game Wednesday.

“Our fans helped pull us though a tough game against Tulsa Saturday night, and we’re going to need the same type of energy and passion when the playoffs begin. I can’t stress enough what our fans mean to this team.”