• Mavs look to capitalize on home ice

  • At 11:05 a.m. Tuesday a, large white bus, sporting Missouri Mavericks logos on its back windows, wheeled into the Independence Events Center.

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  • At 11:05 a.m. Tuesday a, large white bus, sporting Missouri Mavericks logos on its back windows, wheeled into the Independence Events Center.
    It had just picked up players at coaches at the Kansas City International Airport following a long flight home from Allen, Texas.
    After it pulled up to the doors of the Independence Events Center, one by one the players exited and made a dash for their cars. A few joined equipment manager Andrew Dvorak inside, where they picked up some personal items before returning to their homes.
    Others, like Colt King and Kyle Hood, made phone calls, and stood outside waiting for their rides.
    “It’s different when you fly,” goaltender Mike Clemente said, referring to the team’s rare flight to Allen, where they split two games of the CHL semifinal series with the top-seeded Americans. “I didn’t sleep that well last night but I got a little sleep on the flight. It’s just good to be home. We didn’t miss that 11-hour bus ride.”
    The No. 5-seeded Mavericks stunned the Americans 5-1 Saturday night in the opening game, but fell 4-1 Sunday night.
    Following an off day, the two teams meet at 7:05 p.m. tonight for Game 3 in the best-of-seven series.
    “We went to Allen needing to get one win, and we were able to accomplish that goal,” Mavericks coach Scott Hillman said. “Now, what we have basically done is erase a 66-game regular season and turn this series into a home-ice advantage.
    “The two games at Allen are done, finished. We now have three at home – and they are the three biggest games of the season. There are five games left in the series with three at home, so we have the home ice and we have to take advantage of it.
    “If we don’t, that win at Allen really doesn’t mean that much.”
    The Mavericks have turned it up a notch in the playoffs, winning five in a row before Sunday's loss, including the final four of their series with Rapid City after falling into an 0-2 hole.
    “We have a lot of momentum now,” captain Sebastien Thinel said. “I don’t think we lost any momentum after we lost Sunday because we played well, we just had a hard time scoring. Now, that we are back home, we should regain the momentum we got when we won three in a row last week.
    “Scott has a great game plan and we’re following it. Toch (Kellan Tochkin) and Millsie (Kenton Miller) are playing well, the goalies are playing great and everyone is contributing. This becomes a whole new game in the playoffs. There is an urgency and everyone steps it up. You have to – because the team that works the hardest usually wins the championship.”
    Page 2 of 2 - And Hillman believes his team’s work ethic is unparalleled.
    “The boys are playing with a sense of urgency,” Hillman said. “It’s a long (regular) season and you can’t play 66 games with the same energy you play with in the postseason – it’s just not possible. But right now, I like everything I see with our team. You can just sense how important these games are, and it’s great to see the response we have been getting out on the ice.”
    Tickets in all price ranges remain for all three home games.
    “We love and appreciate the fans who came last week,” defenseman Dave Pszenyczny said, “but we’d love to skate out Wednesday and see the place packed. We get a lot of energy from our fans. The ones who were here last week were loud and crazy – and those are the fans you want during the playoffs.”
    Follow Bill Althaus on Twitter: @AlthausEJC

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