• Mavs aiming for fourth seed

  • It was business as usual at the Missouri Mavericks’ extended Thursday morning practice session.

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  • It was business as usual at the Missouri Mavericks’ extended Thursday morning practice session.
    Following a brief timeout, while photographer Scott Thomas took the team’s official 2013 photo, the Mavericks hit the ice with fire and intensity.
    “Only three left,” Mavericks coach Scott Hillman said referring to the three regular-season games that remain on the Mavericks’ schedule, beginning with a 7:05 p.m. home finale tonight against Tulsa.
    “Right now, we’re hoping for fourth place and home ice and we’re going to do everything we can this weekend to make that happen.”
    Following tonight’s game, the Mavericks play the Americans in Allen, Texas, on Saturday and wrap up the regular season with a Sunday afternoon game in Wichita.
    Going into tonight’s final Friday of the regular season, Allen is in first place with 83 points, followed by Wichita (82), Fort Worth (80), Rapid City (74), the Mavericks (72), Quad City (68), Arizona (67) and Denver (67).
    “Allen and Wichita are going to be playing for first place this weekend, so you know we’re going to get their best shot,” Hillman said. “It’s just amazing how close the standings are. A lot can change this weekend.
    “The boys in that locker room don’t care where we start the playoffs. We want to start at home, naturally, but we’ll start anywhere. They’re ready to go.”
    Veteran forward Ryan Jardine and rookie goaltender Mike Clemente backed their coach’s comment.
    “You want to go into the playoffs with confidence, and we’ve been playing well and hope to play well into the weekend,” Jardine said. “With the exception of the Quad City games, we’ve been consistent. We all want to win three this weekend, and I think we’re capable of getting six points.
    “If we start the playoffs on the road, or at home, we’ll be ready.”
    Clemente eagerly anticipates the challenges this weekend poses.
    “If we play well, like we’ve done most of the past week, we should be all right,” Clemente said. “We need to do well on the (penalty kill) and all special teams and need to turn in a playoff-like effort.
    “With the team trying to get to fourth place and get home ice, this weekend is like a playoff series. We’re ready, we can’t wait.”
    Follow Bill Althaus on Twitter: @AlthausEJC

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