When the Missouri Mavericks take the ice tonight and Saturday at Silverstein Eye Centers Arena for the ECHL Western Conference semifinals against the Allen Americans, Mavs coach Richard Matvichuk will be trying to end a dynasty he helped create.
Matvichuk began his coaching career at Allen as the assistant general manager and defensive coach in the 2012-13 season. He helped the Americans and coach Steve Martinson win two CHL titles, then took over the Mavericks prior to last season, when the ECHL absorbed the CHL and Allen went on to win last year’s Kelly Cup.
“(Martinson) and I are friends on and off the ice, and I was fortunate enough to spend two years there,” Matvichuk said. “Everybody is chasing what they have. You’ve got to give them credit for winning three titles in a row, but we’re worried about the Missouri Mavericks. We’re worried about how we’re going to play, about our system and what we can do to win a playoff series.”
Even though he has a familiarity with Allen and Martinson’s coaching techniques, Matvichuk said that doesn’t give his team an edge for the semifinal series.
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“I think the way video is nowadays that everybody is familiar with everybody else’s system,” he said. “We know (Martinson) always gets the most of his players.”
The Mavericks enter the semifinals series coming off a sweep of Quad City in the quarterfinals. The Mavericks have not played in a week, while Allen just finished a grueling seven-game series against Idaho with a 3-2 overtime win Wednesday . This weekend’s games on Friday and Saturday both begin at 7:05 p.m.
“We’re in a great position with rest, but they’re not going to make any excuses,” Mavericks forward Andrew Courtney said. “They’re going to come in right off the bat and play strong and try to get the momentum, so we have to respond first.”
With their history in the CHL, Courtney noted that the Mavericks and Americans have built up a rivalry since Missouri’s inception in 2009.
“They eliminated us in the playoffs a few years ago, so everyone wants to beat them,” Courtney said. “It’s going to be a hard-fought battle. It’s not going to be a sweep most likely, and could go the distance. We’re going to need to bring our best every single night.”
Next season’s schedule
The Mavericks’ 2016-17 schedule was released by the ECHL on Thursday.
They begin next season on Oct. 15 in Allen, Texas. The Mavericks’ home opener at Silverstein Eye Centers Arena will be Oct. 22 against the Indy Fuel.
For more information on season tickets call 816-252-7825 or go to MissouriMavericks.com.