INDEPENDENCE, MO — The Mavericks did something on Tuesday night that they hadn’t accomplished since March 7th, 2014: they defeated the Allen Americans at home. That’s crazy to me, but it’s true. Allen had beaten up on the Mavs all of last season, winning all but one contest that didn’t come until the end of the regular season when the game itself didn’t really mean much to either side and that game was in Allen.
When these two teams squared off in Allen back on Halloween, it was clear to see that this season would be a totally different story. This Mavericks team was a far cry from the 2014-15 squad, and Allen’s path to another division title would be anything but a cakewalk. Tuesday night was Round Two of this heavyweight bout, and this time, the Mavericks punched back at an Allen team that somehow seemed ill-prepared for anything that the Mavericks fired at them. That’s not something we typically see from a Steve Martinson coached team.
To clarify, Tuesday night was Allen’s fourth game in five nights, so some heavy legs were to be expected and I’m sure a few of their guys were banged up. However, I can’t imagine anyone was making excuses after the Mavs 4-1 onslaught in the Americans’ locker room, especially Martinson. Every team in the league has crazy stretches like this, and teams can learn a lot about themselves during this stints.
This was a night where the Mavericks were simply the better team and it showed from the opening faceoff through the final horn. Allen had their chances, hitting the post a couple of times, the crossbar once, and missing a wide open net, so this game could have been a lot closer. On the flip side, Americans’ goalie Joel Rumpel was absolutely outstanding (37 saves on the night), and stopped the Mavericks from running away with the game on multiple occasions. His counterpart for the Mavs, Josh Robinson, only faced 18 shots, but just about every one of them was a solid scoring chance for Allen.
Allen tried just about everything they could to swing the momentum back into their favor. They tried stretching the ice, but Trevor Ludwig, Kane Lafranchise, Pat Cullity, and the rest of the Mavericks’ defensive unit thwarted each attempt. They tried to amplify the physicality of the game, but the Mavericks would not be drawn in to an area that they are not going to compete with Allen. They tried to get pucks to the net and crash hard on Robinson, but those shots that weren’t blocked were either gobbled up by Robinson, or the rebound attempts were jettisoned by the blue liners. Whatever Martinson threw at the Mavs, Richard Matvichuk and his boys were ready for it.
This game came down to the aspect of the Mavs’ game that they do best: skating. Allen could not keep up with the quickness of Colin Markison, Tyler Barnes, Jesse Root, Tanner Fritz, and Kellen Jones. When they did manage keep somewhat close, those guys would drop pucks to Andrew Courtney, Sebastien Sylvestre, Rocco Carzo, and Scott Allen (who recorded his first professional goal on Tuesday night) to set up scoring chances. It was the skating proficiency of the Mavericks that allowed them to avoid Allen’s rough and tough style. It was their skating ability that turned breakouts into odd man rushes. It was their fleetness of foot that had them one step of Allen the entire game.
At the end of the season, we will all look back at this game in one of two ways. Either this will be a seemingly pointless game that did not have any real effect on the outcome of the division or conference standings and playoff picture, or this will be the night that the Mavericks made a statement to not only Allen, but the rest of the Central Division.