MOLINE, Ill. – The Missouri Mavericks made sure that the Quad City Mallards never had a chance.
The Mavericks turned in one of their finest overall postseason performances to defeat Quad City 4-1 Friday at the iWireless Center in Moline and sweep the host Mallards 4-0 in the Western Conference quarterfinal series of the Kelly Cup Playoffs.
The Mavericks are the first team to advance to the conference semifinal round, which will begin at 7:05 p.m. next Friday at the Silverstein Eye Centers Arena. Game 2 will be at 7:05 p.m. Saturday, April 30.
“We got a quality team effort for 60 minutes tonight,” Mavericks coach Richard Matvichuk said by phone. “It was a really good game. It was another game where we had to stay disciplined with our system and disciplined to stay out of the penalty box.
“There was not one point in this series that we thought this matchup was going to be easy. (Quad City coach) Terry Ruskowski and his team deserve credit in giving us a great battle each and every night. I am very proud of our team.”
Defensemen scored the Mavericks’ first two goals as Bryce Aneloski scored on a power-play opportunity at 7:35 of the first period to make it 1-0. Carter Verhaeghe and Rocco Carzo earned assists on the play.
“In the playoffs there’s no such thing as a bad shot,” Matvichuk said. “I love it when our D-men get in on the scoring.”
The Mavs doubled their lead to 2-0 when defenseman Chris Owens fired a shot from the blue line that beat Quad City goalie P.J. Musico at 9:14 of the second period. David de Kastrozza and Carzo assisted on the goal.
“I wasn’t here all last season, but I was here long enough to know that none of us ever wanted to go through a season like that again,” Owens said by phone, referring to the team’s 28-win first year in the ECHL. “This was just a huge team win. It’s special to be the first team to advance to the semifinal round. We'll savor this win and get back to work on Monday. We'll be ready for next round.”
Carzo, who had three points on the night, gave Missouri a 3-0 lead when he scored a power play goal on assists from Verhaeghe and C.J. Ludwig at the 17:46 mark of the second period.
The Mallards fought through Missouri’s defense in the third period when Sam Warning knocked the puck past Josh Robinson after a flurry of attempts in front of the crease, cutting the deficit to 3-1 at 7:54.
Verhaeghe, who also had three points, answered at 11:54 when he drove to the net with a quick shot and put home his own rebound for a the 4-1 advantage. De Kastrozza picked up his second assist on the play.
Robinson, the ECHL Goaltender of the Year, saved 24 of 25 shots to earn his second postseason win this year.
“Robo was huge in the net, the defense was really offensive tonight and Rocco and Carter were great – everyone played great,” forward and associate captain Andrew Courtney said. “We can’t wait to get back home for next Friday’s game.”
The Mavericks will play the winner of the Allen-Idaho series, which is tied at two wins apiece after the Steelheads beat the Americans 3-1 Friday.
Tickets for all the possible playoff games go on sale at 10 a.m. Saturday through Ticketmaster.com, by phone at 1-800-745-3000, or in-person at the Silverstein Eye Centers Arena box office (beginning at 10 a.m. Monday).