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Examiner
  • Miracle Mavericks stay alive

  • The Missouri Mavericks were down to their final 30 seconds of the season.

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  • The Missouri Mavericks were down to their final 30 seconds of the season.
    Coach Scott Hillman's Missouri Mavericks refused to die, though. They claimed a dominating 6-2 victory Monday night at the Allen Events Center to send the Central Hockey League semifinal playoff series against the Americans to an improbable Game 7.
    Allen held a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series when the Mavericks earned a 3-2 overtime victory Saturday night at the Independence Events Center.
    Andrew Courtney scored the game-tying goal with 30 seconds left in regulation and then won it 34 seconds into overtime as he took a pinpoint pass from Ryan Jardine to score the game-winner.
    Courtney was the man of the hour again Monday night in Allen as he scored just 3 minutes into the first period and finished the night with the hat trick to help force tonight’s 7:05 finale in Allen, Texas.
    “Courts has come up huge the past two games,” Hillman said by phone after Monday's win. “We had just 15 shots on goal and finished with six goals. The boys followed the game plan. The biggest key was scoring early. Six minutes into the game we have the 2-0 lead and that takes their crowd out of it.
    “And once we had the lead, we weren't going to give it up. I can't say enough good things about the defense and the way Clemmer (goaltender Mike Clemente) played tonight. We stayed calm, put the puck on the net, got those early goals and had great defensive play from everyone.”
    After Courtney scored at the 3:07 mark, Kenton Miller beat Americans goaltender Aaron Dell to push the lead to 2-0 at 6:40.
    Miller then doubled his fun by scoring again at the 12:34 mark to chase Dell, who was named this season's CHL Most Outstanding Goaltender and was an MVP finalist. It was the second time in this series the Mavericks have sent Dell to the bench.
    Allen cut into the Mavericks' lead when Anthony Maiani scored the first of two power-play goals for the Americans with 41 seconds left in the first period.
    But Courtney stood tall once again, taking a pass from Colt King and firing the puck into an open net to regain the three-goal lead.
    “Biggest goal of the game, with the exception of Courts' first goal that got us going,” Hillman said. “We didn't allow them to gain any momentum with that first goal and Courts got all the momentum back with his second goal.”
    Courtney got the hat trick by scoring the first goal of the second period and John-Scott Dickson got in on the fun by firing a long-range laser past Steve Silverthorn at 18:17 to wrap up the Mavericks' offense on the night.
    Page 2 of 3 - “I really think the momentum from Saturday night carried over to tonight,” Courtney said. “We've really kept it simple. That's what Coach Hillman wanted, and we paid attention and followed his game plan.
    “Getting up 3-0 was huge because Mike was playing so well in goal. When they scored, we knew we had to get the lead back up to 4-1 and I was lucky enough to score.
    “But that goal belongs to Kinger (Colt King). He got the puck, made the pass, all I had to do was put it in the net. It was like Jards' (Ryan Jardine) pass in overtime Saturday. Those are two veteran players who have been amazing in the playoffs.”
    There were just three penalties in the first two periods and a total of 20 in a rough-house third period that saw King flagged for tripping and elbowing – for which he received a major and game misconduct.
    “Colt caught their guy in the chest, and it was a hard hit,” Hillman said, “but it's nothing that would cause him to be suspended. He'll be available tomorrow night for Game 7.”
    So will Clemente, who evened his playoff record at 4-4 with a 25-save night in a must-win situation.
    “I think we've played our best hockey of the season in the past two games,” Clemente said. “Coach told us to take it one period at a time, one game at a time. When you put it that way, coming back from being down three games to one doesn't seem that intimidating.
    “And the way Courts is playing, you feel like if you hold them down, he's going to find a way to win it for you. When he scored the first goal tonight, I was like, 'Yeah, that's what I want to see.' And his goal right before the end of the first period was big.
    “Now, we have to use this momentum tomorrow for Game 7. I think the momentum from Game 5 carried over to tonight and we need to have all the momentum tonight carry over to tomorrow night. Tonight doesn't mean as much if we don't win tomorrow.”
    Team captain Sebastien Thinel, a team captain and league MVP who has never played on a championship team, believes the simple approach is the best.
    “When we keep it simple and listen to Hilly, we play our best hockey,” Thinel said. “We now have momentum from back-to-back wins. Now, it all comes down to one game. I can't wait.”
    Kellan Tochkin (15), Thinel (14) and Courtney (13) are the top three scorers among all players in the postseason. Tochkin and Thinel each had an assist Monday night and Courtney finished with the three goals.
    King added three assists and Jardine two.
    Page 3 of 3 - Follow Bill Althaus on Twitter: @AlthausEJC
     

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