Photo Credit: Noah Markuna
Special teams, goaltending stay hot Mustangs win 8th straight
Peoria, IL – The Peoria Mustangs welcomed the St. Louis Jr. Blues to the Owens Center for the final time in the 2022/23 season and didn’t disappoint. Saturday night was the final CityLink Stuff-A-Bus night and fans packed the Owens Center and witnessed a 7-1 victory over the rivals from Missouri. Sunday afternoon the Mustangs picked up where they left off and skated to a 6-1 triumph for their 8th straight victory and 4th series sweep in a row. With the pair of wins the Mustangs improve to 13-5-0, 26 standings points, just two points back of second place.
Saturday: PEO 7 – STL 1
Saturday night the Mustangs opened the scoring and never looked back as they cruise to a 7-1 triumph over their division Rival. Joe Ambroffi had a stellar start between the pipes and Tristan Trudel had 4 goals enroute to the Mustangs 7th consecutive win.
The Mustangs opened the scoring late in the opening period when Ethan Chesney raced out of the Peoria zone with the puck and dashed through neutral ice. Chesney gained the attacking zone and slipped a pass to Chris Kondiles in the right circle. Kondiles spotted a streaking Jaycob Bland and sent a pass to his line-mate. Bland received the pass just above the left circle and snapped it over the should of Jr. Blues goaltender Jordan Behnen and into the back of the net for the 1-0 Mustangs edge at 13:52 of the opening frame.
The Mustangs got the game winner with just over 30 seconds left in the opening period when Connor Bruns sent a pass from neutral ice to Robin Kuusic, Kuusic skated the puck into the zone and into the right circle, slammed on the brakes, and double back to the top of the circle and snapped a shot that sailed past Behnen and into the back of the net for the 2-0 Mustangs advantage at 19:25 of the first period.
The Jr. Blues got on the board early in the middle frame when Anthony Bagnole netted his second of the season at 3:22 of the second period, cutting the Mustangs lead to 2-1.
Peoria added to their lead with the first of three second period tallied early in the second while skating on the power play. Massimo Polistina won an offensive zone draw, the puck slid out to SP Merck and Merk spotted Tristan Trudel streaking above the left circle. Trudel received the pass and promptly snapped the puck past Behnen and into the back of the net for the power play goal and 3-1 Mustangs lead at 7:51 of the second period.
The Mustangs tacked on another goal just second prior to the midway point of the middle period when Ethan Chesney fired the puck from the high slot and Chris Kondiles deflected it past Behnen and into the back of the net for the 4-1 Mustangs lead at 9:55 of the second period.
Peoria closed out the second period with a late power play tally from Trudel, his second of the period at 19:40 and a 5-1 Mustang’s lead.
The third period was all Peoria as they netted a pair of power play tallies, both near the midway point of the period and both off the stick of Trudel. The first coming at the 8:47 mark and a 6-1 Mustangs lead, and the final goal of the night at the 12:41 mark and eventual 7-1 final score.
Joe Ambroffi earned the win between the pipes stopping 28 of 29 shots faced, the win, Ambroffi’s 4th straight improves the netminder to a sparkling 6-1-0 on the season.
Sunday: PEO 6 – STL 1
Saturday night, the Mustangs jumped out to a lead late in the opening period, St. Louis tied the game early in the second before Peoria took the lead for good late in the middle frame. For the second straight game the Mustangs got stellar goaltending and the power play had huge contributions.
The Mustangs grabbed the lead late in the opening period when Joey Rancilio threw the puck towards the net, the initial save was made by Jordan Behnen, but Robin Kuusik was crashing towards the net, the puck hopped off the shin pad of Kuusik and zipped past Behnen and into the back of the net for the 1-0 Mustangs edge at 18:21 of the opening frame.
The visitors tied the game in the early stages of the second period when Brady Burke netted his 4th tally of the season with an assist to Anthony Bagnole at 2:10 of the period and a 1-1 score.
Peoria took the lead for good late in the middle period, once again while skating with the man advantage. Ethan Chesney collected the puck and skated around the right circle and fired a shot towards the net, the puck clanked off the right post and shot behind the goaltender. The referee initially waved the goal off, but upon further review and discussion with the goal judge Chesney was awarded with the power play tally and eventual game winner at 16:11 of the second period and 2-1 Mustangs lead.
The Mustangs added to their lead with another power play goal less than a minute later when Perry Lagatuz took a Rancilio rebound, danced around a defender, and backhanded the puck over Behnen, into the back of the net for the 3-1 Mustangs advantage at 17:03 of the second period.
Peoria rounded out the scoring with a trio of goals in the final period. Johnny Switzer lit the lamp just 2:51 into the final period. JD Duenwald added a tally prior to the midway point of the 3rd period and Justin Hubble sniped a wrister at 10:14 for the eventual 6-1 final score.
Kason Yamada earned the win between the pipes stopping 20 of 21 shots faced in the contest. The win, Yamada’s 5th straight improves the netminder to a glistening 5-0-0 record on the season.
-Mustangs goaltenders have been stingy head-to-head against St. Louis allowing only 5 goals in 4 meetings, including a Joe Ambroffi shutout on 10/28/22.
-With his goal Sunday afternoon, Johnny Switzer collected his first career NA3HL goal.
-Friday night Peoria collected a season high in goals with 7, the previous high of 6 was achieved 3 times prior to Friday night.
-Ethan Chesney had 7 total points on the weekend, a goal and 6 assists.
-With a goal and assist Sunday, Robin Kuusik earned his first career multi-point game.
-Perry Lagatuz and Justin Hubble delighted the crowd with some nifty goals, Lagatuz a slippery backhander, and Hubble sniped a top shelf goal for his first of the season.
-The Mustangs were rewarded with 3, 5-minute major power plays on the weekend. St. Louis was tagged with a total of 133 total penalty minutes collectively in the series.
The Mustangs hit the road for an extended road trip starting in West Bend, WI, and the Milwaukee Power the 25th and 26th of November. Both games are slated for a 7:30 p.m. face off and kick off the season long 11 game road trip for Peoria. If you can’t make it up to Kettle Moraine Ice Center you can catch all the action LIVE on HockeyTV, or by following along on Mustangs social media.