It’s time for Missouri Mavericks fans to buckle their seatbelts and prepare for a wild ride into Round 2 of the ECHL Kelly Cup playoffs as everyone’s favorite bad boys, the defending champion Allen Americans, are coming to the Silverstein Eye Centers Arena.
The Americans claimed a 3-2 overtime victory over the Idaho Steelheads Wednesday night to win their first-round series in seven games. They head into tonight’s 7:05 game against the Mavericks playing their third game in four days. The two teams also hook up at 7:05 p.m. Saturday, making it a four-games-in-five days stretch for the Americans.
“That series between Allen and Idaho featured two good teams and it went seven games and was decided in overtime,” said Mavericks coach Richard Matvichuk, who was part of two Central Hockey League championships when he was an assistant coach with the Americans. “They’ve played a lot of hockey in the past few days and we hope to use that to our advantage.”
When asked if the series had any added significance to him because his team was facing the Americans, he simply said, “Absolutely not. It’s Round 2 – no matter who we play, we have to play well to advance. And that is our only goal right now – to win Friday and do everything we can to get to Round 3.”
The series has a bit of an added meaning to Mavericks captain Trevor Ludwig, who was a captain on the Americans’ last three championship teams before signing with Missouri this offseason.
“It’s going to be a real battle playing Allen because they always seem to find a way to win the big games,” said Ludwig, as the Americans are 6-0 over the past three years in playoff elimination games. “There is a lot of history between our two teams and the fact that we’re playing Allen adds a bit of excitement to the series.”
The Mavericks and Americans split the 10-game regular season series, so Ludwig knows it won’t be easy.
“When this weekend is over, we hope we’re up 2-0. They will have played four games in five days and we have to use that to our advantage,” Ludwig said. “We’re going to look at some film today, but we know what we have to do to beat Allen. We have to play our game, play to our strength and not let them dictate the pace of the game. We have to keep a great player like Chad Costello (the ECHL MVP) from putting the puck in the back of the net and we have to play well on special teams – our penalty kill and power play units have to get the job done, like they have all season.
“When I was with Allen, we just knew we were going to win every time we got out on the ice. And that’s the feeling we have here with the Mavericks this season. It should be a great series. I can’t wait for it to start.”
SCHEDULE RELEASED: The ECHL released the full 2016-17 regular season schedule Thursday. The Mavericks open the season Oct. 15 at Allen and play the home opener Oct. 22 against the Indy Fuel. The scheduled also features a trip to Florida and Orlando and a visit from the Alaska Aces.