• Mavs look to keep momentum

  • Missouri Mavericks coach Scott Hillman hoped to light a fire under Kellan Tochkin when he sat the rookie forward in last Saturday’s 3-1 playoff loss at Rapid City.

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  • Missouri Mavericks coach Scott Hillman hoped to light a fire under Kellan Tochkin when he sat the rookie forward in last Saturday’s 3-1 playoff loss at Rapid City.
    The shrewd move didn’t ignite a fire, it set off an inferno.
    Tochkin scored the game-winning goal just three minutes and 50 seconds into overtime Wednesday night to lead the Mavericks to a dramatic 3-2 victory and helped Missouri cut its playoff deficit to just one game heading into tonight’s Game 4 at 7:05 p.m. at the Independence Events Center.
    “It's about time I did something to help this team,” Tochkin said after the game. “I've been garbage. I was a healthy scratch Saturday at Rapid City, and I've never been a healthy scratch in my life.
    “When that happened, I respectfully wanted to shove it in Coach’s face tonight. All I've thought about was being a scratch and not being able to help my team win the first game of this series. I wanted to prove to Coach that I should be out helping my teammates on the ice.”
    When he lofted the puck past Rapid City goaltender it set off a wild celebration as the Mavericks now trail 2-1 and have some momentum going into tonight’s contest.
    “It’s funny how one play can turn a series around, and that’s what we’re hoping happened Wednesday night,” Hillman said before Thursday morning’s practice session. “I’m pleased he wanted to show the coach what he could do. We needed it. It couldn’t have come at a better time.”
    Equipment manager Andrew Dvorak had a photo of Tochkin’s game-winning goal and passed it around as players entered the locker room.
    Assistant director of hockey operations Simon Watson did Dvorak one better as he had the same photo, but the puck was Photoshopped into a muffin.
    Since Tochkin’s favorite television show is “Seinfeld,” and the comedy once had a gag about a muffin shop called “Top of the Muffin,” that photo brought a smile to the rookie forward’s face.
    “That was a game we had to win,” Tochkin said. “It was a team win, that’s for sure. Everyone contributed.”
    And that’s what Hillman is hoping for tonight when the Mavericks will try to even the series at two games apiece.
    “Rapid City threw everything at us they had (Wednesday) night and we found a way to win,” Hillman said. “They took a 1-0 lead, and we tied it. They took a 2-1 lead and we tied it.
    “It went into overtime and we found a way to win on the power play. And that was something we talked about in the locker room before the overtime period. If we get in the power-play situation, we have to find a way to get a goal, and Toch took care of that.”
    Page 2 of 2 - The unsung hero is Wednesday’s win was veteran forward Andrew Courtney, whose two regulation goals allowed the team to make it into overtime.
    “We all knew we needed this win,” Courtney said. “I felt like we were going to win. We knew it was a must-win situation, but we were confident and excited about playing. We didn’t go out there gripping our sticks tight or worried about losing.
    “We went out to win, and what a win. It’s great we got one for our fans – the ones who were here will never forget it. I know I was up until about 2 a.m. It’s hard to go to sleep after a win like that.”
    Follow Bill Althaus on Twitter: @AlthausEJC

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