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Examiner
  • Mavs prepped for decisive Game 7

  • The Missouri Mavericks and host Fort Wayne Komets will put it all on the line at 6:30 p.m. tonight as the two teams meet in Game 7 of the best-of-seven Turner Conference championship series.

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  • The Missouri Mavericks and host Fort Wayne Komets will put it all on the line at 6:30 p.m. tonight as the two teams meet in Game 7 of the best-of-seven Turner Conference championship series.
    The Mavericks have never played in a Game 7 but they have faced a deciding game twice in their brief history, winning Game 3 in their best-of-three opening round series against the Mississippi RiverKings in 2010 and beating the Wichita Thunder in Game 5 of their best-of-five conference semifinals in 2011.
    The first Game 7 of the 2012 Ray Miron Presidents Cup is a toss-up, as the Mavericks looked unbeatable in last Saturday’s 5-2 Game 5 win at the Independence Events Center. But the Komets rebounded to claim a 4-1 decision in Game 6 Tuesday night victory in Fort Wayne that set up tonight’s conference championship finale.
    “Thursday night, we have to play like we played at home in Game 5,” Mavericks coach Scott Hillman said Wednesday afternoon. “We were a win away from going to the championship round of the playoffs and – I really don’t know what happened, or why it happened – but we looked fatigued.
    “It’s a long, hard season. This team has had so many ups and downs, but we’ve been playing some great hockey until Game 6.”
    The Komets’ Nick Boucher was outstanding in the net and the Mavericks allowed a barrage of shots on goal that Charlie Effinger simply couldn’t withstand. The Mavericks were outshot 36-17  in the first two periods and 47-32 in the game.
    “We can’t let that happen again,” Mavericks defender Dave Pszenyczny said. “We can’t count on Charlie to save us every night. We’ll be ready Thursday. If we aren’t, the season is over. We go work our summer jobs. If that’s not motivation, I don’t know what is.”
    Effinger and Boucher have been the most talked about players during the playoffs as Effinger is 7-3 with a 2.26 goals against average and 365 saves – 47 more than Boucher, who is 7-4 with a 2.77 goals against average.
    Hillman gave his players a day off from the ice Wednesday, but they met for a team meeting in the early afternoon.
    “We can’t dwell on the negatives, we need to focus on the positives,” veteran forward Ed McGrane said after the meeting. “We did a lot of positive things to get this far, and we need to focus on all the positives to get us to the next round.”
    Hillman said the day off couldn’t have come at a more perfect time for his team.
    “The schedule is perfect for us,” the third-year head coach said. “It’s been a long, physical series. The boys are resting up today and for sure, we’ll be ready Thursday.”
    Page 2 of 2 - Throughout the final week of the regular season and the first postseason series against Evansville, the Mavericks were 8-0. They won the first two games against No. 1 seed Fort Wayne to improve their winning streak to 10 games.
    “But a 10-game winning streak doesn’t mean anything when you combine the regular season and the postseason,” McGrane said. “We won the first two games against Fort Wayne then lost the next two. We won on our ice (in Game 6) and we need to get the job done Thursday. The vets on this team have to lead by example – we can’t yell and scream. We have to be calm and show the young guys what it takes to win a championship.”
    As the regular-season ended, many players talked about their love of Independence and the first-class treatment they received from the Mavericks.
    “If guys want to keep playing, they better come out and play strong on Thursday,” Hillman said. “We can’t ride Effie’s shoulders every night. We need guys to rise to the occasion, we need a complete team effort, and if we get that, we can advance to the championship round. But every player on this roster needs to compete at the highest level for that to happen.”
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