After a long and uneventful bus ride home from Brampton, Ontario, Missouri Mavericks coach Scott Hillman took some time to reflect on a two-win weekend that helped his team maintain a slim first-place lead over Denver heading into next weekend’s three-game series with Quad City.
“We won seven games in a row until a couple of big individual mistakes helped Brampton win that final game,” said Hillman, whose team overcame a nightmarish 36-hour trip Wednesday and Thursday to claim victories Thursday and Friday nights.
Brampton then erased a 3-1 deficit Sunday at the Powerade Centre to claim a 4-3 victory and end the Mavericks’ streak.
While Missouri (40-17-2) was winning seven in a row, the sizzling Denver Cutthroats (35-15-10) was winning nine in a row – including a 5-0 record last week – to come within two points of the Mavericks (82 to 80).
“We wanted to pick up six points in Brampton and we got four, which is good, because that is a quality hockey team,” Hillman said Monday afternoon. “The boys probably played their best overall game on Sunday, but a couple of individual mistakes led to some costly goals.
“And that’s all right. Those kind of things are going to happen. We can correct them and work on them all week as we head into the big weekend series with Quad City.”
The Mallards visit the Events Center on Friday. The two teams then play in Quad City on Saturday and return to the Events Center on Sunday afternoon.
“We only have seven left, so we have to make the most of them,” said defenseman Dave Pszenyczny, who had two goals in Friday night’s victory. “Winning the first two games was huge after all the things that happened on the bus ride (breakdowns, stops due to weather and accidents on the highway).
“And we played well enough to win Sunday, but we made some mistakes. We can learn a lot from those mistakes. If we make them in the playoffs, we could see our postseason come to a premature end. And no one wants that to happen.”
Eric Castonguay, who now holds the team single-season goal record with 32, got the Mavericks on the scoreboard just 15 seconds into Sunday’s game.
Sebastien Thinel and Jeff Buvinow recorded assists on the opening goal, but the Beast knotted it on a Jason Pitton goal at 8:32.
Evan Vossen then gave Missouri a 2-1 lead about four minutes later after redirecting a shot behind Beast goaltender Grant Rollheiser.
Mike Ramsay managed to give Missouri a 3-1 lead as he fired the puck into the back of the net during a second-period scrum, but that would be it for the Mavericks offense.
A goal by Steve Ward made it 3-2 later in the period and two Scott Howes goals in the first six minutes of the third period proved to be too much for the Mavericks to overcome.
“We control our own destiny, and that’s all you can ask for at this time of the season,” Hillman said. “If we win five of our last seven, it doesn’t matter what Denver does.
“We’re going to keep an eye on Denver – that’s just human nature. But we are in the driver’s seat and we want to stay there.”
After this weekend's three-game set with Quad City, the Mavericks host the St. Charles Chill on March 25 in a makeup game from March 2. They then host the Tulsa Oilers on March 28 and 29 and then finish the regular season at Quad City on March 30.