While the Missouri Mavericks could celebrate the fact they are coming off their best regular season in their five-year history with a 44-20-2 record and a Governor’s Cup, coach Scott Hillman says those were never specific goals.
Instead, Hillman said that the real focus all season was creating a favorable scenario entering this weekend’s Central Hockey League playoffs. The Mavericks, who have a 21-10-2 record at home this season, will start a best-of-seven series against the Arizona Sundogs at 7:05 p.m. Friday at the Independence Events Center.
“The focus all year was to secure home-ice advantage and with that carries a regular season championship, which is not important to this locker room at all, except for the fact that you get the home ice advantage,” Hillman said. “They fought hard to try to give us an advantage going into the playoffs, so they are extremely ready to get things kicked off.”
The Mavericks and Sundogs will play again at 6:10 p.m. on Sunday at the Independence Events Center, before traveling to Arizona for games three, four and five, if necessary. If the series stretches to seven games, the Mavericks would play host to matches six and seven on April 15-16.
Arizona is 17-13-3 at home and 15-14-4 on the road.
The Mavericks, in first place in the league standings with 90 points, swept the eighth-place Sundogs 4-0 during the regular season. However, Hillman said that there have been so many roster changes for Arizona since Missouri played them in October and December, that Arizona enters as a bit of a wildcard.
“There’s 10 teams in the league, but this is the 11th team because they are very different from the team that we beat all four times earlier in the season,” Hillman said. “They’ve been playing their best hockey lately, so they are a confident hockey club.”
The Mavericks also enter the playoffs with a league-high 238 goals scored, compared to 197 for Arizona.