• Mavericks knot up series with big second period

  • For the second game in a row, the Missouri Mavericks found a way to claim a “must-win” and even their best-of-seven CHL playoff series against Rapid City at two games each.

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  • For the second game in a row, the Missouri Mavericks found a way to claim a “must-win” and even their best-of-seven CHL playoff series against Rapid City at two games each.
    Kenton Miller scored two goals and Mike Clemente stopped 24 of 26 shots to lead the Mavericks to a physical 4-2 victory over the Rush Friday night at the Independence Events Center.
    The third and final game at the IEC takes place at 7:05 p.m. Saturday, and coach Scott Hillman calls it the biggest of the trio of home playoff games his Mavericks have hosted.
    “We come home trailing 2-0 and win Wednesday (3-2 in overtime) and tonight,” Hillman said. “Now, it's a three-game series and two of the games on their ice (next week). We have to win Saturday. We have to go in with the same sense of urgency we played with tonight.”
    When asked if the Friday night win was a statement game, Hillman shook his head and said, “I didn't think we played as well tonight as we did in our last two games. We played some very good hockey in Rapid City, we just couldn't find the back of the net.
    “We played a great game Wednesday and came out and played the type of physical hockey I've been looking for all season.”
    The Mavericks found a way to win in a penalty-filled affair that saw the Rush whistled for 26 minutes of penalties and the Mavericks 20.
    “It was as physical as any game we've played this season,” defenseman Dave Pszenyczny said. “We set the tone early. They didn't know what hit them.”
    For the first time in the series the Mavericks claimed the first lead of a game as Miller took advantage of a power-play situation and scored the first of his two goals when he jammed the puck underneath the padding of goaltender Tim Boron for the lone first-period goal.
    Just 22 seconds into the second period, the Mavericks took a 2-0 lead on their second power-play goal of the game as Kellan Tochkin scored his second goal of the playoffs and Miller picked up the assist.
    Miller made it 3-0 at the 1:52 mark of the period for his second goal of the game on an assist by Andrew Courtney. Following the goal, Boron – who made 66 of 67 saves in the first two Rapid City wins – was pulled in favor of Danny Battochio.
    “We didn't care who was in the net,” Miller said, “we just knew we had to win tonight – and we did.”
    Rapid City finally got on the board at 9:07 of the second period when Winston Day Chief took a feed from Jesse Schultz and slipped the puck past Clemente.
    But the Mavericks quickly regained the three-goal lead just nine seconds later when Courtney beat Battochio from the doorstep to make it 4-1.
    Page 2 of 2 - “That was the biggest goal of the game,” Hillman said. “We built back that three-goal lead, which at the time, was huge.”
    Clemente agreed.
    “They score and you don't even really have any time to think about it when Courts scores the goal to make it 4-1,” Clemente said. “That was huge – a big-time playoff goal.”
    Courtney swung around to his forehand side and somehow slipped the puck past Battochio to give the Mavericks some breathing room.
    “I don't even know how I did it,” Courtney said. “I was falling down, and swung around and almost shot the puck wide. I wanted to score a goal, especially since they'd just scored.”
    Scott Wray finished off the scoring for the Rush, who were held without a goal, and to just eight shots, in the final period.
    “The defense was amazing in the third period,” Clemente said. “It was great all night, but our guys would not let Rapid City get back in the game. Another huge win.”
    Follow Bill Althaus on Twitter: AlthausEJC

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