A South Dakota spring snowstorm only delayed the Missouri Mavericks’ march to the next round of the Central Hockey League playoffs.
Kellan Tochkin and Sebastien Thinel each scored twice, Kenton Miller added a clincher and Mathieu Corbeil stopped 24-of-25 shots in net to lead Missouri to a 5-1 victory and end Rapid City’s fifth-anniversary season in Game 6 of the CHL quarterfinals Wednesday night.
Tochkin added two assists to lead Missouri in the series with five goals and nine total points. Miller also had a three-point night with a goal and two assists.
Scott Wray scored the lone goal, a power-play tally for the Rush, ousted in the first round of the playoffs for the second straight season.
An April storm buried Rapid City under more than 2 feet of snow, forcing a one-day delay of Tuesday’s scheduled Game 6. The Mavericks shrugged off the stand down, with their top scoring line burying the Rush before a storm-depleted crowd of 2,774 at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center Ice Arena.
“Pretty special performance by the guys and (Corbeil) was great,” Missouri head coach Scott Hillman said. “(There were) a lot of unsung heroes on the blue line taking care of (Jared) Brown, (Jesse) Schultz and (Winston) Day Chief.”
The Mavericks overcame an 0-2 series deficit with four straight wins to advance to the Ray Miron President’s Cup semifinals, where they will face the Allen Americans starting Sunday in Allen, Texas.
“We were obviously hoping just to come back to this building. We certainly believed it would go to Game 7, so to win four straight, we certainly didn’t expect that,” Hillman said.
Hillman said the series turned with Missouri’s 3-2 overtime win in Game 3 at the Independence Events Center. The Mavericks followed up with 4-2 and 5-2 wins in Games 4 and 5.
“I think we took over the series physically in Game 3. They didn’t appear to have the same jump and spark that they did at home. It felt we wore them down a little bit more in each game,” Hillman said.
“They got the momentum from there. Coulda, woulda, shoulda’s — they outplayed us,” Rush captain Scott Wray said.
The Rush defense and goaltender Tim Boron keyed Rapid City victories in Games 1 and 2 when the Rush outscored Missouri 6-1, but as in the three losses in Missouri, defensive miscues by Rapid City gave the Mavericks the opening they needed in Game 6.
Both teams had scoring chances early, but Tochkin finally capitalized on a breakaway to put the Mavericks in the lead for good, just after the halfway point of the first period.
Miller found Tochkin behind the Rush defense, sending the puck to the top-right corner of the net on Rush starter Tim Boron.
Ryan Jardine won the two-against-one battle for the puck deep in the Rush zone and fed scoring champ and league MVP Thinel, who added his first goal of the playoffs to five assists.
Missouri opened the second period with an onslaught, but Wray got Rapid City on the board with Rapid City’s second power-play goal in 27 chances. Amateur Kyle Stroh screened Corbeil, who never saw Wray’s blast from the point.
Thinel scored his second of the night on Jardine’s set-up. Tochkin’s rebound for his second goal of the game ended Boron’s night with 3:04 left in the second frame.
“At the end of the day, their best players were their best players,” Rush head coach Joe Ferras said. “When you score 13 goals in six games, you’re not going to win the series."
Danny Battochio took over and stopped 6-of-7 in relief. Miller’s goal put a period on Rapid City’s season at the 7:30 of the third period.