Final Regular Season Records:
Missouri Mavericks: 52-15-3-2 (109 pts—ECHL Regular Season Champions)
Allen Americans: 41-24-3-4 (89 pts)
Game Schedule (Home Team in BOLD CAPS and All Times Local):
Game 1 – Fri., April 29 – Allen at MISSOURI 7:05 pm
Game 2 – Sat., April 30 – Allen at MISSOURI 7:05 pm
Game 3 – Wed., May 4 – Missouri at ALLEN 7:05 pm
Game 4 – Fri., May 6 – Missouri at ALLEN 7:05 pm
*Game 5 – Sun., May 8 – Missouri at ALLEN 4:05 pm
*Game 6 – Tues., May 10 - Allen at MISSOURI 7:05 pm
*Game 7 – Wed., May 11 - Allen at MISSOURI 7:05 pm
*= If Necessary
Season Series Recap: The Mavericks won the season series, going 6-5-0 against the Americans during the regular season. Allen won three of the last four meetings against the Mavericks, however.
How Missouri wins: The Mavericks have the edge in regards to team speed and scoring depth. If they want to knock off the defending Kelly Cup Champions, they will need to stretch the ice with their skating ability and force the Allen defense into bad situations. Secondary scoring has been key to the Mavericks’ success this season, and they’ll need that to continue. Sebastien Sylvestre, Andrew Courtney, and Josh Holmstrom will need to step up to help out the likes of Carter Verhaeghe, Tyler Barnes, Darian Dziurzynski, and Rocco Carzo.
The Mavericks defense has been effective all season at shutting down the opposition’s top line, however they’ll have their hands full with Greger Hanson, ECHL MVP Chad Costello, and Casey Pierro-Zabotel. The Mavericks will need to stay out of the penalty box, as Allen has the most potent power play in the league. Mavericks netminder Josh Robinson is 4-0-0 against Allen this season, having only allowed a total of four goals in those games. If Missouri can avoid engaging in the physical style of play that Allen wants to push onto their opponents and stick to their style of play, they will win the series.
How Allen Wins: The Americans are a battle-tested team with a tremendous amount of experience throughout their roster. They force their style of play down their opponent’s throats and make other teams play the type of game that they want them to play. Scoring has been an issue for Allen all season, and they’ll need to continue to get contributions from their blue line in the offensive zone. Eric Roy, David Makowski, and Matthew Register are all capable of hitting twine from the point, and Allen has some big bodies like Spencer Asuchak and Gary Steffes that can create problems in front of the net for Missouri. Goalie Riley Gill already has two Kelly Cups under his belt, and has historically played well against Missouri.
The teams that have had success against the Mavericks have used physicality to push the Mavericks outside of their comfort zone. If Allen can disrupt the Mavericks transitional play in the neutral zone, finish their checks, and get under their skin, they can force the Mavericks to play outside of their system. Those are all things that Allen does incredibly well.
Other Factors to Watch For:
The biggest story line of this series will be the coaching match-up. Mavericks coach Richard Matvichuk is the former associate coach of Allen coach Steve Martinson, and was a big part of Allen’s success and championships in the Central Hockey League. Martinson’s success, especially in the postseason, is well documented and his former pupil is looking to end his streak of three consecutive championships.
What could really throw a wrench into this series is each team’s AHL affiliate. Bridgeport, the Mavericks’ AHL affiliate, was knocked out of the Calder Cup Playoffs on Thursday night. So there could be some reinforcements coming to bolster the Mavericks’ roster. San Jose, Allen’s AHL affiliate, currently trails Ontario 2-1 in their series. Game Four is Friday night. Both teams could get a boost of AHL talent which will be interesting to watch how that affects the play on the ice.