The Arizona Sundogs looked like a team that did not want to return home to Prescott Valley with an 0-2 record staring them in the face, while the host Missouri Mavericks looked like a squad that missed its playoff wake-up call.
The end result was a 4-3 Arizona victory Sunday night at the Independence Events Center that evens the best-of-seven playoff series at one win apiece.
The next game will take place at 8:35 p.m. CDT at Tim's Toyota Center, and Mavericks coach Scott Hillman said his team needs to find the same sense of urgency that sparked the Sundogs Sunday night.
“We came out sluggish in the first period,” said Hillman, whose team was outshot 13-6 in the first 20 minutes of play. “We had some (scoring) chances early on, but didn't capitalize on them. We were outshot (42-30 in the game) and we were scrambling in the zone all night. We never could get into an offensive flow, and Arizona's defense had a lot to do with that.
“We didn't think we were going to win this series 4-0, so we have to go down to Arizona and find a way to win a couple of games.”
The Mavericks had the best road record in the CHL this past season, so there is no fear of playing on the Sundogs’ home ice the next three games (Wednesday, Friday and Saturday).
“We play well on the road,” said forward Colt King, whose goal at 5:46 of the third period tied the game at 2-all. “We just have to do a better job of taking care of the puck. We had far too many turnovers, and some of our turnovers led to points for Arizona.
“Shane (Owen) was getting bombarded most of the game, and we can't allow a team to outshoot us by 12 shots. We didn't play well in the first period, and we played them pretty close the second and third periods but they kept crashing the net and got a couple of quick goals (in the third period) to win it.
“But we're still in this thing. We're disappointed we lost at home, but we can't wait to get back out on the ice Wednesday.”
Paul McIlveen gave the Sundogs a 1-0 lead 1:39 into the second period, but red-hot Andrew Courtney scored with 2:53 left in the period to knot the score at 1-all.
Arizona's Kevin Baker wasted no time giving the Sundogs a 2-1 lead at the 1:19 mark of the third period, but King's goal knotted the score once again.
Then, Arizona's Shawn Limpright and McIlveen scored less than two minutes apart to give the Sundogs a 4-2 lead with just 3:37 left in the game.
Rookie Tyler Currier scored his first playoff goal with 2:26 left, but Arizona's Andrew Engelage stood tall in the net and the Sundogs kept the defensive pressure on the Mavericks, making it impossible to pull Owen for a sixth attacker until there were just 20 seconds remaining.
“They proved why they are the No. 1 seed in the postseason, by never giving up and giving us a real battle all night,” Sundogs assistant coach Gordon Burnett said. “We wanted to come in here and get a win, and we were lucky enough to do that.
“Our goalie played well and so did Shane Owen. He faced 42 shots tonight and made some big saves. This is going to be an exciting series.”
Currier agreed with Burnett on that topic.
“It's going to be exciting, and no one in our locker room is panicking,” Currier said. “We're disappointed, but they're a great team. We have had a lot of success on the road, and we hope to keep that success going in the playoffs.”
THE PUCK STOPS HERE: The Examiner's Bill Althaus will host “The Puck Stops Here,” a weekly half-hour radio program with guests from the Mavericks, airing at 6 p.m. Tuesdays on KCWJ 1030 AM. His guest tonight is Mavericks president Brent Thiessen.