Colt King liked what he saw Tuesday at practice at Tim's Toyota Center in Prescott Valley, Ariz., as the Missouri Mavericks prepare for Game 3 of their first-round CHL playoff series against the Arizona Sundogs.
He also appreciated the way the top-seeded team made its way to the Valley of the Sun.
“The Mavericks have always been a first-class organization, and to fly us down here to Arizona, give us a day to rest following that (4-3) loss Sunday at home, and allow us to get used to the altitude shows that the front office is doing everything it can to get us ready for Wednesday night's game,” King said by phone of today’s game at 8:35 CDT (6:35 Mountain time). “Now, it's up to us to go out and get the job done on the ice. And I think we will. I mean, we didn't play well Sunday. We're the first ones to admit that. The Sundogs played a great game and stole a win in our house, now we have to come down here and find a way to get some wins.”
The Sundogs used two third-period goals to even the series at 1-win apiece Sunday.
“Missouri is such a strong team, with so much talent and depth, we knew we had to find a way to get a win up here,” Sundogs assistant coach Gordon Burnett said Sunday. “This is going to be a great series. We're heading home, and we have a lot of confidence on our home ice and they have the best road record in the CHL during the regular season. It's going to be exciting.”
Whether you are a coach, a veteran or an untested rookie, there is no panic in the voice of any member of the Mavericks’ staff.
“We had a good skate, a very good skate this morning,” Mavericks coach Scott Hillman said by phone. “When got here this morning, you could sense the boys were motivated.
“No one on this team is thinking about what happened Sunday. That's in the past, and we're looking toward the future. We're so thankful for the flight down here, because no one wants a 17- to 20-hour bus trip in the playoffs, and the boys are fresh and ready to go.”
Hillman believes simplicity and following the game plan are keys to his team getting back to its winning ways in the playoffs.
“We have to keep things simple, crash the net, keep attacking and we cannot have the turnovers that led to so many of their goals Sunday,” Hillman said. “This is a veteran team, a team that has had success on the road, and everyone is looking forward to Wednesday's game.”
Rookie forward Tyler Currier, who scored his first playoff goal in Sunday's loss, said no one is pushing the panic button.
“Do you think guys like Kinger (King), Stevie (Matt Stephenson), Sebbie (team captain Sebastien Thinel) or Rammer (Mike Ramsay) are pushing a panic button?” asked Currier, who has a goal and a plus-2 rating after the first two games. “The rookies on this team look at those guys, the veteran leaders, and watch them in practice and in games and we try to emulate what they do. This team has such a great mix of young guys and veterans, and we think we have the best goalie in the league (in Shane Owen), so we're confident. We're going to Arizona to win three games – that's our goal.”
Owen, who led CHL goaltenders with 35 regular-season wins, has allowed seven goals in two games.
“I'm disappointed in the way I've played,” Owen said. “I have to play better. The guys in front of me are working so hard, and I have to work hard, too.”