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#USPHLPlayoffs Preview: Columbus Mavericks vs. Buffalo Stampede

Great Lakes Division

Buffalo Stampede (5) at Columbus Mavericks (4)

Game 1 At OhioHealth Ice Haus, Columbus, OH

Games 2-3 At OhioHealth Chiller North, Lewis Center, OH

Friday, March 1, 2 p.m. EST

Saturday, March 1, 8:30 p.m. EST

Sunday, March 3, TBD (if necessary)


By Joshua Boyd / USPHLPremier.com


The Columbus Mavericks and Buffalo Stampede are both extremely excited to go into their playoff series that begins Friday afternoon. A playoff series win will be a huge confidence booster for whomever wins. This is a pair of teams that has struggled in a division that features two of the top seven teams in all of the USPHL Premier in the Metro Jets and Nashville Spartans. Whichever team wins the series will draw one of those two teams, depending also on the outcome of the other first round series between the Toledo Cherokee and Cincinnati Jr. Cyclones.  

“We’re excited about the matchup. Our games with Columbus this year have been tightly contested and we’ve been fortunate to find a way to have success against them,” said Stampede Head Coach Brian Thompson, whose team went 3-1-0-0 vs. the Mavericks. “This gives our guys a ton of confidence going into the series that if we play to our potential we will put ourselves in a good position to advance.”

The Stampede won the most recent meeting, 5-4, in overtime on Feb. 24. However, Columbus came out of that weekend series with three out of a possible four points. They went 1-2-1-0 against the Stampede this year. 

“The Mavericks have had a few hiccups along the way, but we have had wins every weekend this month and finished 5-5-1 in our last 11 games. After taking three of four points from Buffalo last weekend, we’re excited to come into the playoffs with a home series against a familiar opponent. Like all teams, we’re battling injuries and illness, but the playoffs are a new season and our guys are looking forward to the challenge,” said Mavericks Owner/GM/Head Coach Joey Recktenwald. 

“We think we match up well with Buffalo, and feel we have a chance every night the way veteran goaltender Anders Smith has played down the stretch,” Recktenwald added. “Hunter Gentz and Alexander Brown have been really clicking together offensively, and getting Graham Wood and Braden Medved healthy on the back end has really helped us get back in the win column. I’m excited to see who else is going to step up for their teammates this weekend.”

The Stampede are powered by veteran Caden Cavalieri, who has 38 points this season and 56 points for his career. Matthew Riblett is at 28 points for second in scoring and Jeremiah Rausch was a great pickup from the GOJHL, putting up 21 points in his 22 games with the Stampede – including a run of eight points in his last four regular season games. Max Lee has been very strong on the back end for Buffalo, in leading the way with 56 blocked shots. 

On the Columbus side, Recktenwald mentioned leading scorer Hunter Gentz, a second-year Maverick with 23 points in 37 games, including four scored over his final four games. Charlie Nelson (14 points, including five over his last seven games) and the more recent acquisition Brown (seven points in eight games since joining in January) will provide additional offense during the series. The aforementioned blueliner Medved put up a team-leading 77 blocked shots this season. 

Columbus’ Anders Smith has been strong recently in net with a 2-1-1-0 run in his final four games, including a .929 save percentage over that run. In net for Buffalo, both Liam Letters and Charley Healey have shared the wins this season against Columbus.

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