Written April 5, 2021
Story by Connor Kelly
Peoria, IL – The Peoria Mustangs returned to post season action after a year absence due to the postponement and ultimate cancellation of the 2020 NA3HL Playoffs due to the COVID-19 pandemic. After an offseason full of questions, a turbulent regular season & plenty of hand sanitizer, the Mustangs returned to the Owens Center ice on Thursday April 1, 2021 for the first game of the 2021 Central Division Semi-Finals vs. the St. Louis Jr. Blues.
The first game saw the Mustangs get off to a quick start as first year Mustang and points leader Ethan Chesney punched in his first postseason goal in a Mustangs uniform at the 3:19 mark of the first half. Veteran Jaycob Bland also found the back of the net on a powerplay goal later in the first half to increase the Mustang lead to 2-0 heading into the second frame of action. The Jr. Blues would find the back of the net midway through the 2nd frame but Jaycob Bland would seal the win after sliding the puck in the corner of the net during a chaotic scramble resulting in a 3-1 first game win.
The second game in St. Louis provided a challenge with the home team quickly taking advantage of their home ice and scoring 2 goals evenly spread throughout the first period of action. The Mustangs re-grouped in the first intermission and never looked back thanks to a dominant defensive effort throughout the team and the tenacity of first year forward, Ethan Chesney. Peoria capped the next two periods with four unanswered goals (a hat trick by Chesney and a lone goal by Campise) to complete the 4-2 win and the overall series win.
With the series win, Peoria will advance to the NA3HL Central Division Championship series where the Mustangs will face division rival, the Rochester Grizzlies. The first game of the series is slated for Wednesday, April 7th at 6:45 PM at the Owens Center. Following that game, the Mustangs will travel to Rochester, MN for the second battle of the series where puck drop is scheduled for 7:05 PM. If necessary, there will be a third game scheduled at Rochester for 7:05 PM on April 10th.
Stay tuned to the Mustangs social media pages and website for more information regarding the upcoming playoff series and the Fraser Cup.