It was a simple case of too much Riley Gill and not enough scoring – even though the opportunities were there – as Gill and the visiting Allen Americans edged the Missouri Mavericks 3-2 Friday night at Silverstein Eye Centers Arena.
Gill, a longtime Mavericks nemesis who has been in the net for the Americans’ four consecutive championships (two in the now-defunct Central Hockey League and the past two in the ECHL), entered the game with a 23-7 record and 2.09 goals against average.
The veteran goaltender stopped 46 of 48 shots – including four breakaways that had Mavericks fans on the edge of their seats.
“We had our chances, that’s for sure,” coach John-Scott Dickson said after his team fell to 27-24-2-5 overall and 1-2 so far on this six-game homestand. “But you have to Gill a lot of credit. He’s been one of the best goaltenders in this league for a long time.
“I’m disappointed we lost, but I am not disappointed in the way we played. I’d go to war with any guy in that room. We’re down two defensemen, and we’re getting a couple we picked up before the trade deadline and they should be here Sunday (for a 4:05 p.m. game against Tulsa).”
He was referring to defensemen Benjamin Dieude-Fauvel and Alex Brooks, who are expected to be in Independence for the Sunday home game.
A back-and-forth opening 20 minutes saw the Mavericks and Americans trade multiple scoring chances at each end. The Mavericks built a 16-13 shot advantage, but Allen struck first when Mike Gunn's point shot sneaked past a screened Stephon Williams.
Eric Scheid, who missed the final two games last weekend with an injury, made an impact in his return to the lineup. He led the Mavericks with four shots in the first period and scored his first goal as a Maverick at 12:38 to tie it. Scheid stole an errant breakout past and fired a wrist shot past Gill for his seventh goal of the season (six with Florida).
Despite a 14-13 shot advantage in the second period, the Mavericks found themselves down a pair after 40 minutes of play. Spencer Asuchak broke the 1-1 tie with a power play goal at 4:18 and Dyson Stevenson followed at even strength at 11:39.
The Mavericks worked quickly to cut into Allen's advantage in the third period. Dane Fox netted his team-leading 26th goal of the season 1:09 into the frame. He found a loose puck low on the left wing and pushed it through a crowd and into the net.
“We fought hard tonight,” Fox said. “I thought we played well enough to win. Last weekend (in two losses to the Americans) they tried to intimidate us, and found out they couldn’t. Tonight, we had some chances to tie the game, but just couldn’t get it done.
“We can leave here feeling like we gave them a good game, but we have to play better Sunday and get a win against Tulsa.”
Scheid tested Gill with two separate breakaways later in the third, but missed the net on the first and was stopped by Gill's blocker on the second.
Missouri pulled Williams with just under two minutes remaining and then earned a 39-second 6-on-4 skater advantage thanks to an Allen hooking penalty.
But Gill stood tall in the net for the 38-17-3-2 Americans.
Williams made 32 saves for the Mavericks. Missouri finished 0-for-7 on the power play and 1-for-2 on the penalty kill.