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Examiner
  • Mavs search for consistency continues

  • The Missouri Mavericks claimed their first home victory of the season, but turned around and lost a heartbreaker at Tulsa as coach Scott Hillman’s team still continues the search for its identity and consistency.

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  • The Missouri Mavericks claimed their first home victory of the season, but turned around and lost a heartbreaker at Tulsa as coach Scott Hillman’s team still continues the search for its identity and consistency.
    “We’re getting there,” Hillman said as the Mavericks topped Bloomington 5-2 Saturday night at the Independence Events Center before falling in a 3-2 nail-biter Sunday afternoon at Tulsa.
    Jeff Pierce provided 5,288 fans with a present as he scored a goal and recorded two assists in Saturday night’s win over Bloomington that followed Friday night’s 7-0 home loss to the Blaze.
    “It’s going to be lot more fun to visit with the fans after tonight’s game,” said Pierce, who celebrated his 29th birthday with the big win. “The fans here are great. It’s about time we gave them something to cheer about.”  
    Hillman agreed.
    “A big monkey is off our back with that home win,” Hillman said. “We’re turning the corner. We’ve had solid goaltending in back-to-back games and we were able to put the puck in the back of the net Saturday.
    “Sunday, we had the right players with the puck in the right situations and we just couldn’t find a way to score. But I see improvement each game, and this early in the season, that’s what you want to see from your team.
    “If we keep improving, we’ll see wins coming on a more consistent basis.”
    Rookie goaltender Mathieu Corbeil turned in a strong 34-save performance in the win over the Blaze.
    The Mavs had two power plays in the first 10 minutes of regulation, but could not convert on either opportunity. Missouri finally broke through at the 13:20 mark of the first period when Brian Bicek fed Kellan Tochkin on a two-on-one odd man rush to give the Mavs the lead.
    It was the first time this season that the Mavs scored the first goal of a game at home. The score remained 1-0 until the first intermission. The Mavs outshot the Blaze 17-6 in the period.
    Missouri continued to pile up the shots in the second period, but none found their way past Blaze goalie Pier-Olivier Pelletier until the 12:02 mark. Pelletier mishandled a puck deep in the Blaze zone and Sebastien Thinel planted the mistake in the back of the net, doubling the Mavs lead to 2-0.
    “It feels so good to win at home,” Thinel said.
     Jamie Vanderveeken and Pierce assisted on Thinel’s goal. Matthew Larke halved the Mavs’ lead shortly after with a power play goal, while Matt McCready was in the penalty box for roughing. The Mavs took a 2-1 lead into the second intermission and continued to outshoot Bloomington by a count of 33-23.
    Page 2 of 2 - Two goals by the Mavs in the first half of the third period extended the lead to 4-1. Brandon Smith skated through two Bloomington defenders and blew the puck past Pelletier for his first goal of the season. Pierce celebrated with a breakaway goal at 9:30 of the final period. Bloomington brought the game within striking distance shortly after though, getting another power play goal from David Gilbert, making the score 4-2.
    The Mavs sealed away the victory with a goal from Bicek at the 16:29 mark of the third. Pierce assisted on the goal, bringing his point total on the night to three. The Mavs held off Bloomington for the final minutes of regulation and held on for their first home victory of the season.
    Missouri dominated the shot count on the night, outshooting Bloomington 47-36 on the evening.
    It was a different story at Tulsa, where Ben Gordon’s second-period goal held up for the 6-5-1 Oilers as they defeated the Mavericks in the first of nine meetings between the teams this season.
    Pierce and Trevor Kell scored the goals for the Mavericks who failed to win two straight games for the first time this season. Tulsa’s two power-play goals proved to be the difference as the Oilers finished 2-for-5 on the power play while killing all four of the Mavericks’ power-play opportunities.
    “We are turning the corner,” Hillman said after his team fell to 3-5-2. “We did what we needed to do to create more quality chances than the Oilers did. We just did not capitalize on those chances.”
     
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