For the second year in a row, the Missouri Mavericks reached the seventh game of the CHL semifinal series, only to fall short in their quest to reach the championship round.
For the second year in a row, the Missouri Mavericks reached the seventh game of the Central Hockey League semifinal series, only to fall one win short in their quest to reach the championship round.
After routing Allen 6-2 Monday night, the Mavericks fell 7-3 to the No. 1 seed in Game 7 at the Allen Event Center.
“It’s tough to be on the doorstep two years in a row,” Mavericks coach Scott Hillman said by phone Tuesday night. “But this loss doesn’t take away from all the good things we accomplished this season and in the playoffs.”
Aaron Dell, who was voted the CHL's Most Outstanding Goaltender during the regular season, stopped 29 of 32 shots and Todd Robinson scored two goals, including an unassisted backbreaker that gave Allen a 5-2 lead just 5:28 into the third period.
Unlike Monday’s game, where the Mavericks ran off to a quick 4-1 lead, the Americans’ Brian McMillan scored just 1:52 into the first period to set the tone for what appeared to be a defensive battle.
“At that point, it looked like it might be a defensive game,” Hillman said. “We wanted to take the early lead, but the boys buckled down after they scored that goal and we felt good going into the second period.”
Allen’s Jason Deitsch made it 2-0 two minutes into the second period, but Kellan Tochkin scored to cut the Mavericks deficit to one at 5:37.
Kale Kerbashian gave the Americans a 3-1 lead at the 15:28 mark, but Dave Pszenyczny scored less than three minutes later to make it a one-goal deficit.
“Chezzy’s goal was huge, and we thought it might turn the game around,” Hillman said. “Then we get the penalty that puts them on the power play.”
Robinson scored a power-play goal just 40 seconds later to push the lead back to two, setting the stage for a third period that the Americans dominated.
Robinson picked amateur defenseman Eric Meland’s pocket in front of the net and fired the puck past Mike Clemente to make it a 5-2 game.
“The power play goal was the first backbreaker, and that unassisted goal was the second,” Hillman said. “We knew we couldn’t afford any mistakes, and they made us pay for the mistakes we made.”
Jim McKenzie then scored and with 5:11 left in the period, Hillman pulled Clemente to put six skaters on the ice.
The strategy worked briefly as Colt King scored a power-play goal with 4:32 left, but in the closing seconds Brian McMillin found the empty net to account for the final 7-3 tally.
“We’re not making any excuses,” Hillman said. “I’m proud of the boys. This is a tough loss, and it’s going to take a while to get over.”
Page 2 of 2 - With two points, Tochkin added to his leading postseason point total. He finished his first postseason with eight goals and nine assists for 17 points.