Missouri Mavericks coach Scott Hillman was the lone member of the team in the locker room Thursday morning.
He’d given his team the day off after traveling Wednesday to Moline, Ill., where the Mavericks looked good for one period then suffered through a 5-1 loss to the Mallards.
For the second night in a row, the Mavericks came out strong in the first period, only to watch their opponent win the second and third periods. The Mavericks lost 4-1 to the Allen Americans Tuesday night in a similar scenario.
Hillman said the team’s performance Tuesday and Wednesday nights was “totally unacceptable.”
He expanded on that comment in his office.
“Playing three strong periods is an area of needed improvement,” Hillman said. “We have to play with more discipline. We can’t let things we can’t control take us out of our game plan.”
If you read between the lines, he was referring to the officiating Wednesday night. It got so out of hand, mild-mannered team trainer and NHL veteran Bill Murray was booted for the first time in his lengthy career.
“It’s just a culmination of things that aren’t going to change,” Hillman added. “We have to expect the level of officiating the final 15 games that we have experienced the first 51.
“We can’t do a thing about the officiating, but we can play better on the power play and help our goalie in the net. There are things we can control and we will start to control them Friday in St. Charles.”
The 33-15-12 Mavericks remain atop the standings with 68 points.
“We’re in a 15-game race, and it’s ours to lose,” Hillman said. “If we take care of business the last 15 games of the season, we’re in first place, we have home ice in the playoffs and we’re looking good.
“The boys were upset Wednesday night. They were mad, because they know they can beat Quad City. They know, if they play up to their capabilities, they can beat any team in this league. We’re in a stretch unlike any I’ve seen. I’ve never heard of a team playing five games in six days. We are done with two of the games, and unfortunately, they are losses.
“But now, we’re back to a three-in-three series (at St. Charles Friday, and home Saturday against Wichita and Sunday against the Chill), and the boys are used to that. We thrive in those situations. We have to pick up some points this weekend, and I believe we will.”