For the second season in a row the Missouri Mavericks found themselves just a few goals short of advancing to the Ray Miron Presidents Cup Championship Series of the Central Hockey League against the Wichita Thunder.
The top-seeded Allen Americans defeated the Mavericks in the best-of-seven semifinal series in an exciting set four-games-to-three.
To win the series the Mavericks would need to win at the Allen Event Center. Coach Scott Hillman’s players felt good about accomplishing this as they played well in Allen going 2-1 during the regular season with Mathieu Corbeil turning in the only shutout by a CHL goalie against the Americans in the 2012-2013 season, 4-0 on March 23.
The Mavs two wins against the Americans at the AEC during the regular season were matched only by the Arizona Sundogs who went 3-3 in their barn, the Fort Worth Brahmas, who went 4-4 with two of their victories coming in shootouts and the Rapid City Rush who won twice in Allen getting one win in overtime and one in a shootout.
In game one in Allen, Missouri won 5-1 as Sebastien Thinel assisted three times and Kellan Tochkin had a goal and an assist. Corbeil turned aside 36 of 37 Allen shots. His biggest save came with 7:27 remaining in the first period and the Mavericks leading 1-0 when Jim McKenzie of Allen was awarded a penalty shot. Corbeil, who had not faced a penalty shot and had allowed five goals on seven shootout attempts during the regular season got his right leg on the puck to direct it wide and maintain the Missouri lead.
The next evening Aaron Dell, who was chased from the game one in the third period after surrendering his fifth goal, was solid stopping 24 of 25 shots and the Americans evened the series at one win each with a 4-1 victory.
Game three, played at the Independence Events Center, will be talked about for a long time.
Trailing 1-0 in the third period the Mavericks went up 2-1 on goals by Eric Meland and John-Scott Dickson. With 2:20 left in the final regulation stanza Trevor Ludwig’s goal tied the game at two and sent it into overtime.
In the extra period the Mavericks penalty killers, who had allowed just two goals on 34 opponent power play attempts going into the game, held Allen scoreless for a 59-second two-man advantage. But late in the first overtime, with Andrew Courtney of the Mavericks already in the penalty box, Sebastien Thinel, who had 18 penalty minutes during the regular season was assessed a game misconduct and a five minute penalty for attempt to injure, when he pulled the beard of Allen forward Darryl Bootland. For the first time since hockey records were first recorded in 1923, in all leagues combined, a team was given a second two-man advantage in an overtime period.
The Americans made good on their opportunity as Trevor Hendrikx scored a power play goal giving Allen a 3-2 win and a two-games-to-one lead in the series.
In game four sixteen seconds after Tochkin and Dickson had given the Mavericks a two-goal lead early in the second period Kale Kerbashian’s marker pulled the Americans to within one and swung the momentum Allen’s way as they went on to defeat Missouri 8-4 and take a three-games-to-one lead in the series.
Game five was another contest that will be talked about for a long time among Mavericks fans. Needing a win to stay alive in the playoffs the Mavs, who had never lead in the game got the tying goal with 30 seconds reaming in the third period to send it to overtime. With six skaters and no goaltender on for Missouri, Kyle Hood somehow slipped the puck to Andrew Courtney who put it past Dell to tie the game at 2-2.
Thirty-four seconds into the extra session Dave Pszenyczny found Ryan Jardine who took the pass, burst out of his own zone and fed Courtney, who was to Dell’s left, draped all over Allen’s Chris Doyle. Courtney directed the puck home and sent the Mavericks to Allen for game six.
Despite firing only 15 shots on goal the Mavericks evened the series at three wins each with a 6-2 triumph in game six as Courtney recorded a hat trick, Kenton Miller scored twice, Colt King had three assists and Jardine and Blake Forsyth each had two helpers.
The following night the Americans capitalized on Mavericks mistakes and earned a trip to the Ray Miron Presidents Cup Finals against Wichita with a 7-3 win over the Mavericks.
The Mavericks finished a win short of going to the championship series but provided for their fans memories that will be the topic of discussion in many years to come.