Their backs are against the wall. There is no tomorrow. It's do or die. It's a must-win situation. Win or go home. Alright, now that we have all of the clichés out of the way, let's get down to business.
Game 5. What an absolute gut-punch that was. The Mavericks and Sundogs went toe to toe, punch for punch, hit for hit, and goal for goal in what was the most entertaining playoff game that the league has seen so far. The Mavs trailed entering the third period, only to get a boost from the most unlikely player on the roster. Pete Massar was signed prior to the game, and threw the social media world into a frenzy as everyone was asking about the new player in the number sixteen sweater with no name plate.
Massar has become an overnight sensation amongst the Orange Army, and nearly cemented his name in the team's history books. The forward out of the University of Vermont scored to tie the game at two, and later gave the Mavs a 3-2 lead with his second of the night. As far as a professional debut goes, you can't get much better than that. As the Mavs were clinging to their newly found lead late in the third period, the ideas for this blog post were already running through my head, in particular, something based around Bill Murray's iconic "Cinderella Story" scene in "Caddyshack" (my mind really wanders late at night). Game 5 of the 2014 playoffs was going to be one of the most dramatic, and unlikely wins that this team and its fans had ever seen.
We all know what happened. Arizona pulled Engelage for an extra attacker, and Justin Pender blasted one past Shane Owen to tie the game with 29 seconds on the clock. The Mavs were 29 seconds away from heading back to The IEC with a 3-2 series lead, a recipe that looked like ultimate doom for the Sundogs. However, after 90 minutes and 28 seconds of hockey, Johan Ryd (who has since been elected Mayor of Prescott Valley) forced a turnover in the neutral zone and roofed a wrister to propel the Sundogs to a 4-3 win in a thrilling (yet nauseating) game.
I'm not going to lie, I'm still trying to get over that loss. I thought that the Mavs, for the most part, played a pretty good game, much unlike the stinkers that we saw in Games 2 & 3. I was 70% into celebration mode when Pender pulled off his Grinch impersonation, stealing a victory from the jaws of defeat. Even after that, when Shane Owen was on his back, lying in the crease with Sundogs forward Sebastian Geoffrion about to put home the game winner and the Mavs goalie managed to get his glove up just enough to make one of the most spectacular saves that I've ever seen, I knew that the Mavs would somehow come away with a win. I was wrong, and it hurt.
Now it's time to put up or shut up (another cliché), or the best team in the history of the Mavericks will pack up and head home, saddled with the most disappointing end to a season to date for this organization. We all knew that this series wouldn't be your typical number one seed versus number eight seed matchup. Let's face it, for the last few months of the season, Arizona was one of the best teams in the league. I say one of the best, because every team was still looking up at the Mavericks, as they sat atop the standings, notching win after win, and raising our expectations every time that they took the ice. It's not our fault that we all expected this team to eventually get over the hump and make it to the Finals. Coach Hillman, Sebastien Thinel (when he's not being handed an absolutely ridiculous suspension), Eric Castonguay, Dave Pszenyczny, Shane Owen, Andrew Courtney, Mike Ramsay, Colt King, and the rest of the Mavericks are responsible for us expecting the very best every game. After all, that's what they put on display for the majority of the regular season. We didn't set the bar high. They did that themselves. So now it's time to stop talking about goals and expectations. It's time to start achieving them. Orange Pride.