A promising opportunity provided the Missouri Mavericks with an all-too-familiar ending. And that’s perhaps what will sting the most over a long offseason.
The Mavericks’ bid to play on the Central Hockey League’s grand stage fell one game short for the second straight year.
Allen defeated Missouri 7-3 in the winner-take-all game seven of the CHL semifinals on Tuesday night in Texas. The Americans will move on to play Wichita in the CHL finals, a best-of-seven series that will begin Friday.
Missouri lost to Fort Wayne in game seven of the CHL semifinals last season.
“It’s frustrating to come this close again,” Mavericks coach Scott Hillman said. “We’re right there. We felt like this was the year to do it, but we were up against a real tough team.”
The Mavericks were thrown back on their heels only moments after the announcement of Tuesday’s starting lineups. Allen forward Brian McMillin opened the scoring 1:52 into the first period, and the Americans led for the remainder of the night.
Missouri, seeded fourth in the eight-team playoff, fought back in the second period — it twice cut the margin to one goal on scores from rookie Kellan Tochkin and veteran defenseman Dave Pszenyczny.
But no closer.
Allen forward Todd Robinson followed Pszenyczny’s power-play goal with a score of his own just 40 seconds later, which came less than 2 minutes before the close of the second period.
“That was the biggest turning point right there,” Hillman said. “We get a power-play goal, and they take it right back to open up a two-goal lead. It was a pretty even game up until that point.”
The third period belonged to Allen, which topped the CHL with 87 points in the regular season.
After back-to-back Allen goals stretched the lead to 6-2, Mavericks forward Colt King’s empty-netter proved too little, too late.
“To come down to a game seven two years in a row is huge for us,” Hillman said. “You have to get over that hump though. We’re close.”
The Mavericks will be host to a season celebration party from 5 to 8 p.m. Thursday at the Independence Events Center. The event is free to the public.
| Sam McDowell, firstname.lastname@example.org