Missouri Mavericks goaltender Josh Robinson ended up on his back behind his goal less than a minute into Friday’s ECHL Western Conference semifinal opener against Allen.
It marked a foretelling sign as to how the game would go for the Mavericks.
Missouri couldn’t capitalize on numerous scoring opportunities, and the Americans took advantage of Mavericks mistakes during a 2-0 win at Silverstein Eye Centers Arena.
“It’s a game where we have to rebound and come back better (Saturday),” Mavericks coach Richard Matvichuk said. “We didn’t play our best game and we know it. We’re not going to make excuses, we just need to be better.”
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Robinson, who appeared to be tripped by a passing Allen player, got back in front of the goal after it sat defenseless for a few seconds after he went down. But sloppy clearing of the puck and poor defense by the Mavericks led to Allen’s Greger Hanson scoring moments later.
“The puck was between my skates,” Robinson said. “Their guy tried to reach in and then pulled my leg out. Then the goal happened.”
After not playing in more than a week following a sweep of Quad City in the quarterfinals, the Mavericks looked sluggish to open the game. They failed to capitalize on four power plays in the first period, and although they outshot Allen 11-6, they came close to scoring only once.
“(The week off) may have come into play,” Mavericks captain Trevor Ludwig said. “Obviously getting out of game-like timing and situations, that’s kind of hard to simulate in practice. They probably had a little more game-readiness coming in.”
Early in the second, Casey Pierro-Zabotel scored on a power play, giving the Americans a two-goal cushion.
Allen entered the game fresh off a series-clinching 3-2 overtime win against Idaho Wednesday. They played aggressively to start the game, but the Mavericks dominated possession by the third period, taking advantage of Allen’s third game in four nights.
Americans goaltender Riley Gill recorded 34 saves, with Robinson making 25.
Game 2 is tonight at 7:05 before the Mavericks head to Allen for three straight games.
“We knew this was going to be a battle and probably go five, six or seven games,” Ludwig said. “(Allen) is good. We knew going in we were probably have to win a game or two at their rink. It’s part of the playoffs. You really have to take it one game at a time and not get too high or too low.”