Mustangs Battle, Fall Short In NA3HL Playoffs

Photo Credit: Noah Markunas

Mustangs force game 3, come up short in elimination game

Peoria, IL –The Peoria Mustangs embarked on the 2023 Fraser Cup Playoffs this past weekend, taking on the Rochester Grizzlies in the best-of-three division semifinals. The 4th seed Mustangs and 1st seed Grizzlies met in the post season for the second time in the past three seasons. Friday the Mustangs traveled to Minnesota for game one, game two was at the Owens Center in Peoria, and game three back in Rochester.

The Mustangs fell in game one by a 2-0 final score, defeated the Grizzlies in the second game of the series to force the winner take all game three back in Rochester.

Friday: PEO 0 – ROC 2  

Friday night the Mustangs fell behind by a pair of goals after 20-minutes and could never gain momentum en route to a 2-0 game one loss against the Grizzlies.

Rochester opened the scoring just prior to the midway point of the opening frame when Luke Sawicky collected his first goal of the playoffs, Spencer Klotz and Gavin Mears were given assists on the first tally. Sawicky scored what would be the game winner at the 9:52 mark of the opening frame.

Rochester doubled their lead in the closing seconds of the first period when Luke Morrisette tallied his first goal of the postseason at 19:40, the goal was assisted by Ryan Berglund and Logan Kroyman.

Cam Pendleton suffered the tuff luck loss between the pipes for the Mustangs stopping 28 of 30 shots faced in the contest. The Little Elm, TX native fell to 0-1-0 in the postseason.

Saturday: PEO 3 – ROC 0

Saturday night the Mustangs jumped out to a two goal lead through 20 minutes and added an insurance tally late as the evened the series at 1-game a side. The Mustangs received a strong outing from Cam Pendleton for the second straight night on their way to a 3-0 victory on home ice.

The Mustangs opened the scoring early in the first period on a botched clearing attempt deep in the Rochester zone. A grizzlies defender attempted to clear the puck, instead hitting a body parked in the right circle. The puck floated in the air and fluttered to the ice just below the hash marks where Chris Kondiles pounced on it a whipped a shot over the glove of Grizzlies goaltender Tate Cothern and into the back of the net for the eventual game winner and 1-0 lead at 7:15 of the opening stanza.

Peoria doubled their lead late in the first period when Perry Lagatuz raced into the Rochester zone, tip toed around a defender and snapped a shot on goal that was initially turned aside by Cothern. The rebound skipped out to a streaking Ethan Peterson who promptly swatted the rebound past a prone Cothern, into the back of the net at 18:46 of the period and a 2-0 Mustangs advantage.

The Mustangs added an insurance tally late in regulation with time winding down. After an apparent empty net goal was waved off the Mustangs cycled in the Rochester zone. Joey Rancilio slipped a pass to Ethan Chesney above the right circle, Chesney then skated to his left and found a seam. Chesney flipped the puck towards the net, the puck sailed past Cothern and into the back of the net for the eventual 3-0 final at 18:34 of the final period.

Cam Pendleton earned the win between the pipes in Saturday night’s contest turning aside all 32 shots faced in the contest, the win improved Pendleton to 1-1-0 in the playoffs.

Sunday: PEO 1 – ROC 5

With Saturday night’s win the Mustangs faced a win or go home scenario up in Rochester, MN. The Grizzlies opened the scoring and built a 4 goal lead before the Mustangs got on the board. The loss ends the 2022/23 campaign for the Mustangs who look forward to the 2023/24 NA3HL campaign.

The Grizzlies opened the scoring and never looked back as they build a one goal lead through 20 minutes of action. Rochester netted their first tally at 8:23 of the first period when Ben Oakland tallied his first goal of the playoffs.

Rochester increased their lead to three in the middle frame, Adler Johnston collected his first goal of the game at 13:45, and Luke Morrisette tallied his second of the playoffs at 15:59 for a 3-0 Rochester advantage.

The Grizzlies added a tally early in the third period while skating on the power play to make it a 4-0 contest, Luke Sawicky collected his second goal of the postseason at the 8:16 mark of the period.

The Mustangs cut into the Rochester lead less than 60 seconds late when Perry Lagatuz netted a power play goal of his own. Lagatuz took a Tristan Trudel feed and hammer the puck past Cothern and into the back of the net at 9:02 and a 4-1 Rochester lead.

The Grizzlies tacked on an empty net goal in the closing seconds of regulation, Adler Johnston netted his second of the game at 19:57 and the eventual 5-1 final score.

Cam Pendleton suffered the loss between the pipes stopping 32 of 36 shots faced in 48:16 of ice time. Joe Ambroffi came in for the final 10:18 of the contest and stopped all 5 shots directed his way.

Stable Notes:

-The Mustangs killed off a 5-minute major in Saturday night’s game.

-Peoria completed the first round of the playoffs 1/6 on the power play, and 7/8 of the penalty kill, that includes the 5-minute major.

-In Saturday night’s win, Cam Pendleton collected his first career postseason shutout.

-The Mustangs traveled roughly 1,300 miles combined from Friday through Sunday.

-With his game winning goal in Saturday night’s contest, Chris Kondiles netted his first post season goal.