In a game it absolutely had to have, the Missouri Mavericks dominated in impressive fashion Saturday.
A day after a sluggish start in a loss in the ECHL Western Conference semifinals opener, the Mavericks controlled the game from the start, scoring the game’s first five goals in a 5-2 thrashing of the Allen Americans in Game 2 at Silverstein Eye Centers Arena.
“We weren’t at our best (in Game 1) and we knew it,” Mavericks coach Richard Matvichuk said. “It was a matter of having a meeting, watching video and getting back to our game plan and pressuring the puck. We played good hockey (Saturday)”
Tyler Barnes scored twice and Missouri set the pace and tone of play early, exhibiting a physicality it hadn’t shown 24 hours earlier.
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C.J. Ludwig opened the scoring moments into the contest, his slap shot from just inside the blue line giving the Mavericks a 1-0 lead fewer than 90 seconds into the game.
Barnes and Darren Nowick scored on power plays later in the first period, cleaning up rebounds off shots directly in front of the Americans’ goal. The Mavericks were so dominant the first 20 minutes that goalie Parker Milner faced only three shots.
“We played our system the way we should and it paid off in the first period,” Matvichuk said. “It’s always nice to get one early, and then the power play clicked.”
Allen never threatened to get back in the game as Missouri ruled puck possession until late in the third period, well after the game’s result had been decided.
Rocco Carzo’s shot from 20 yards out on a breakaway found the back of the net in the second period, then Barnes slapped a shot past Americans goalie Joel Rumpel early in the third to push the Mavericks lead to 5-0.
“There’s kind of been a joke around the locker room that it had been a good 10 years since I scored on a slap shot,” Barnes said with a grin. “You don’t get those too often.”
It marked Barnes’ 12th playoff career goal in only his second full professional season.
“It’s nice to have some success in the postseason, but that’s something you don’t think about while you’re playing,” Barnes said. “Statistics don’t matter at this time of the year, it’s just about getting out with a win.”
Casey Pierro-Zabotel and Chad Costello scored goals in the game’s final 5 minutes for Allen.
The Mavericks head to Allen for three games starting Wednesday, needing to win one to play host to Game 6 on May 10.
“This was a must-win for sure,” Milner said. “It was great to take care of business the way we did. This was a huge statement game. Hopefully we can ride a little momentum on the way to Allen.”