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.
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“It’s frustrating to come this close again,” Mavericks coach
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 forwardBrian 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 rookieKellan Tochkin
and veteran defensemanDave Pszenyczny
But no closer.
Allen forwardTodd 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 forwardColt 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.