• Waiting Mavericks working to keep playoff focus

  • Ryan Jardine is a scoreboard watcher.

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  • Ryan Jardine is a scoreboard watcher.
    So is Cole Ruwe and Missouri Mavericks coach Scott Hillman.
    The Mavericks swept aside Evansville 4-0 in their best-of-seven playoff series while Fort Wayne holds a 3-2 edge over Rapid City in the other Turner Conference semifinal round.
    Because of the sweep, Hillman gave the Mavericks four days off last week.
    They returned to the Independence Events Center ice Easter Sunday for a demanding workout that proved the Mavericks didn’t do anything foolish during their short break.
    “I wanted to see some intensity (Sunday),” Hillman said. “Not only did I see intensity from every player on the ice, they were sharp and executed every drill to perfection. I was very pleased with what I saw.”
    After a Monday morning practice session, veteran forward Jardine and standout defenseman Ruwe talked about their time away from the ice.
    “I’ve become a scoreboard watcher,” Jardine said. “I can’t wait to see what happens in the Rapid City-Fort Wayne series. I know they’re going to beat each other up. Whoever we play, we’re going to be ready.
    “A lot of guys and Coach were talking about keeping our competitive edge, which I think we did.
    “The break was good for guys who were banged up, and good for (goaltender) Charlie (Effinger) because he hasn’t missed a game in forever. But personally, I wish we could have played again right after we swept Evansville because we had so much momentum.
    “Now, we’re going to have to work hard to keep that momentum. I’ve been wondering what our first couple of practices would be like once we got back on the ice, and they have been outstanding – seriously, some of the best practices we have had this season.”
    While some players took the time off to head back home, Ruwe remained in Independence. He even caught Sporting Kansas City’s victory over the Los Angeles Galaxy Saturday afternoon.
    “I love soccer, and it was great to see Sporting KC’s new stadium,” said Ruwe, a native of Pekin, Ill. “I didn’t want to go anywhere over our break. I just wanted to stay home, get some rest and get ready for the playoffs.”
    Ruwe made an interesting point in talking about the series between Rapid City and Fort Wayne.
    “If Rapid City wins, we have home-ice advantage the next round, so we’re rooting for Rapid City,” Ruwe said. “But whoever wins, both teams have to take a 20-hour bus ride from Fort Wayne back to Rapid City and they might have to go back to Fort Wayne. So while we’re working here, getting ready for the next round, they’re on a bus for 20 hours.”
    Page 2 of 2 - PLAYOFF FORMAT: The team with the best record will host the first two and last two playoff games in the Turner Conference championship round in a 2-3-2 format. The first round of playoffs had a 1-2-1-1-1-1 format because of scheduling problems at the respective arenas. Tickets for all home playoff games are available at the Events Center Box office and at www.ticketmaster.com. The nest round of the playoffs will begin this weekend – either Friday or Saturday nights.
    “I told the boys it’s like a test,” Hillman said. “You go to school, and you’re ready for a test. And you get there, and it’s been postponed a day – you just get another day to prepare. Friday or Saturday? We don’t care, the boys will be ready for whoever we play, whenever we play.”

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