The Missouri Mavericks will get a day off to get past this one, but the lasting emotions from their 3-2 sudden-death overtime loss to Allen in Wednesday’s Central Hockey League playoff game seem unlikely to be forgotten, or forgiven.
And it isn’t Trevor Hendrikx’s game-winning slap shot with 1:59 left that will be remembered, but what set it up.
The goal came less than a minute into an Allen five-on-three power play, giving the top-seeded Americans a 2-1 series lead in the best-of-seven semifinal series.
Missouri was penalized twice within six seconds — the second one a 5-minute major for intent to injure that led to league MVP Sebastien Thinel’s ejection.
A pileup in the Missouri crease had Thinel and Allen forward Jamie Schaafsma in a scrum as they both were on the ice. But only Thinel was penalized — and ejected — despite complaints from Thinel and coach Scott Hillman that Thinel’s head was being pushed into the ice in the mass at the net.
Less than a minute later, Hendrikx’s goal won the game to a rain of boos from the 3,919 in attendance and with both teams jawing at each other as they left the ice.
It was the second five-on-three power play for Allen in the overtime period, which only deepened the frustration for Hillman after the game.
“I’ve never heard of that,” Hillman said. “Never seen it. Probably never see it again in our lives.”
Before the controversial finish, two goals in just over 4 minutes during the third period put the Mavericks ahead late.
But Allen defenseman Trevor Ludwig squeezed a wrist shot between the near post and goalie Mike Clemente with 2:20 left to send the game to sudden death overtime.
The Mavericks took the lead with 10:33 left when John-Scott Dickson sent the puck high over Aaron Dell’s glove from the right side. Dickson was assisted by Colt King, who se slashing penalty ended just 11 seconds earlier.
That goal came 4:02 after Eric Meland drove a low slap shot by Dell at 14:35 to tie the game 1-1 with 14:35 left.
“You should play with desperation all the time, but it’s a psychological part of the game as an athlete,” Dickson said. “When you’re down one, you gotta put it all out there.”
While fifth-seeded Missouri tested the Americans’ defense and kept goaltender Dell crouched and ready, the Americans scored first.
Left wing Jason Deitsch sent a quick slap shot from the left side by Clemente’s glove and into the far side of the net. To that point, 9:39 into the second, the Mavericks had outshot the Americans 9-2 in the period.
Despite controlling possession on the attacking zone for long stretches and playing with a five-on-three advantage for 1:20, the Mavericks couldn’t score in the second period.
That followed a scoreless first, the sixth time Missouri didn’t have a goal in the first period in eight playoff games this season.
The Mavericks, who were 3-0 at home in the playoffs, will have to regroup after the emotional game in time for Friday’s game four, also in Independence.
“The game’s over, nothing you can do about it now,” Dickson said. “You can’t be dwelling on playoff games like this because you have to come out and play again the next night.”