• Mavericks refuse to mope

  • The mood was surprisingly light and upbeat Friday morning as the Missouri Mavericks held a short practice at the Independence Events Center.

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  • The mood was surprisingly light and upbeat Friday morning as the Missouri Mavericks held a short practice at the Independence Events Center.
    Players were talking about going to Friday’s Kansas City Royals home game against the Toronto Blue Jays. Goalie Charlie Effinger – who played 82 minutes and 47 seconds in Thursday night’s heartbreaking 5-4 double-overtime loss to Fort Wayne – was playing some killer air guitar alongside all-star forward Andrew Courtney and defenseman Mike Wakita was getting in some extra time on the ice after turning in a crushing performance against the Komets.
    “It sucks that we lost (Thursday),” Courtney said, “but the sun came up today and it will come up again tomorrow. We played our best hockey of the playoffs in the third period and then we had a lot of chances to win the game in overtime. There are a lot of positives we can take from the game.
    “We can’t get down. We have to realize that a best-of-seven series just turned into a best-of-three series, with the first game on our ice.”
    The Mavericks held a 2-0 lead, taking both games at Fort Wayne in the Turner Conference championship series, then dropped the next two games at the Events Center.
    The series resumes at 7 p.m. Saturday, before heading back to Fort Wayne for the sixth and possibly seventh games.
    “Back in November, or December, or even a month or so ago, if someone would have said, ‘You can play a best-of-three for the championship of your conference, we would have taken it,” Mavericks coach Scott Hillman said as he formulated a game plan with assistant director of hockey operations Simon Watson.
    “I know everyone was disappointed with the outcome Thursday night, but we played our best hockey in the last eight games in the third period. And we played a great overtime period.
    “None of us like the way it ended, but that’s hockey. That’s what happens sometimes. You don’t like to see officiating play a role in a playoff series, but it happened at their place. And now, it’s happened here.”
    The Mavericks won a 2-1 overtime thriller in the first game of the series when Fort Wayne goalie Nick Boucher was whistled for knocking the net off its moorings in the closing seconds.
    Missouri’s Ed McGrane took the Mavericks’ lone shot in the third period and scored, sending the game into overtime, where John-Scott Dickson scored the game-winner.
    Thursday night at the Events Center, Ed McGrane, who had not been called for a penalty the entire playoff series, was whistled for tripping with 27 seconds left and the Mavs holding a 4-3 lead.
    The Komets scored the game-tying goal five seconds after McGrane went to the box.
    Page 2 of 2 - Then, in the second overtime period, Dale Mahovsky – who had not been penalized throughout the playoffs – was called for tripping and the Komets won it less than a minute later on a goal by defenseman Frankie DeAngelis.
    “We have to win at home – it’s almost a must-win situation,” Hillman said, “and then steal one at their place. We’re very capable of winning two of three. The boys are still confident. I know our fans are disappointed with the two losses at home, but we’re working hard to get to the next round.”
    Wakita, who was a defensive standout Thursday night, said there are a lot of positives the Mavericks can take from their double-overtime loss.
    “We’re not down at all,” Wakita said. “We’re giving it 110 percent, and some nights you can give 110 percent and still come up short. The officiating has been a focal point in this series, but we have to keep our emotions in check and come out at the start of the game and play like we did in the third period.”
    The Mavericks trailed 3-1 going into the third period Thursday and got goals from Courtney, Mahovsky and Dickson to a one-goal lead going into the final seconds of regulation play.
    “We need to play with a sense of urgency, and this team certainly proved it could do that during the regular season and now in the playoffs,” Hillman said. “It’s a whole new series, and we’re ready for anything.”

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