Mustangs Sweep Weekend, Win 4-Straight Ahead of Playoffs

Photo Credit – Noah Markuna

Mustangs defense, goaltenders stingy in regular season finale

Peoria, IL – The Peoria Mustangs concluded the regular season portion of the schedule this past weekend, welcoming the Wausau Cyclones to the Owens Center for a Saturday, Sunday pair of games. Saturday the Mustangs played form behind, eventually tied the game before Caleb Bross netted the game winner early in the third period. Sunday afternoon the Mustangs got on the board early and never looked back as the cruised to a 6-0 victory in the regular season finale. With the pair of victories, the Mustangs conclude the 2022/23 season 26-18-3, fourth in the Central Division.

Saturday: PEO 3 – WAU 2

Saturday night the Mustangs fell behind after a scoreless opening period, tied the game and took a lead before the Cyclones tied the contest late in the second period. The Mustangs collected the game winner early in the final period and received a strong outing from Cam Pendleton between the pipes to seal the victory on home ice.

After a scoreless opening 20 minutes the Cyclones opened the scoring early in the middle frame when Chase Chapman collected his 7th goal of the season at 5:27 and a 1-0 Cyclones lead.

Peoria evened the score just past the midway point while skating on the power play. With Cyclones forward Josh Christofferson serving a cross checking minor the Mustangs cycled the puck in their attacking zone. JD Duenwald found linemate Edvards Bergmanis streaking through the left circle. Bergmanis received the pass and snapped a shot over the shoulder of Wausau goaltender Collin Lemanski, clanked off the cross bar and into the back of the net at 12:13 of the middle stanza and a 1-1 score.

Peoria gained their first lead less than 3 minutes later when Joey Rancilio found the back of the net for the 11th time this season. Declan McDermott raced into the Peoria attacking zone and slipped a pass to Bergmanis who snapped a shot on goal, the initial save was made but the rebound popped right to a streaking Rancilio. Rancilio lofted the puck over the shoulder of Lemanski and into the back of the net at 15:11 and a 2-1 Mustangs edge.

The Cyclones evened the score in the closing seconds of the second period when Chase Heckerson poked the puck past Mustangs netminder Cam Pendleton and into the back of the net at 19:03 and a 2-2 tie game.

Peoria got the eventual game winner early in the final period. Robin Kuusik spotted Caleb Bross skating through the neutral zone, Bross took the feed and whizzed through the neutral zone, entered the attacking end, and proceeded net ward. Bross and a defender were shoulder to shoulder when Bross muscled a back-hand shot on goal that was initially turned aside by Lemanski but trickled down the netminders leg and into the back of the net at 5:39 of the 3rd period and eventual 3-2 final score.

Cam Pendleton earned the win between the pipes stopping 16 of 18 shots faced in the contest, the win, Pendleton’s second straight improves the netminder to 8-14-3 on the season.

Sunday: PEO 6 – WAU 0

The Mustangs and Cyclones met for each of the team’s regular season finales Sunday afternoon, the Mustangs got on the board first and never looked back as the cruised to a 6-0 victory and their 4th straight heading into the NA3HL Fraser Cup Playoffs.

The Mustangs opened the scoring early in the opening period, receiving the game winner just 3:02 into the contest. On a delayed penalty the Mustangs buzzed around the ice and maintained possession of the puck. Ethan Chesney skated through the left circle and snapped a shot on goal that found its way through traffic and was initially turned aside. Edvards Bergmanis took a swipe at the rebound and the puck popped right to Sam Truxaw who buried the rebound in the back of the net at 3:02 of the first period and a 1-0 Mustangs edge.

Peoria doubled their lead late in the opening stanza when Ethan Peterson collected a power play tally at 18:56 and a 2-0 Mustangs advantage.

The Mustangs added a single tally in the second period when Justin Hubble blasted a shot from the blue line that whizzed through traffic and into the back of the net on the power play at 12:36 and a 3-0 Mustangs advantage.

The Mustangs added a trio of goals in the final period of regulation the first coming just 2:03 into the stanza. Massimo Polistina collected his first of two in the period. Declan McDermott increased the Mustangs lead to 5-0 just 2:10 after the Polistina goal collecting his second of the season at 4:13 of the third period.

Peoria rounded out the scoring while skating on the power play at 5:13 of the final frame, Polistina collected his second of the afternoon for the eventual 6-0 final score.

Joe Ambroffi collected the victory between the pipes stopping all 15 shots faced in the contest. With the win, the Plainfield, IL native improves to 12-3-0 on the season with a pair of shutouts.

Stable Notes:

– The Mustangs delighted Saturday night’s crowd with some rough stuff, after a mele late in the first period Connor Bruns dropped the gloves with Adam Napravnik. The tilt brought the Owens Center crowd to their feet in a thunderous roar.

-The Mustangs fired a total of 111 shots on goal in the weekend series.

-Joe Ambroffi collected his second shutout of the season in Sunday’s 6-0 victory, it is the 6th blank slate of his Mustangs career.

-The Mustangs were 4/12 on the power play on the weekend.

-There were a grand total 240 penalty minutes handed out on the weekend and 5 total game ejections both nights.

-The Mustangs allowed just 33 shots on goal in the two game weekend series.

-Mustangs forward Massimo Polistina collected his 3rd 3-point game of the season Sunday afternoon.

What’s Ahead:

The Mustangs embark on the Fraser Cup as the NA3HL playoffs begin this week. The Mustangs will face Rochester in the first round, best-of-3 series beginning Friday night in Rochester, MN. Stay tuned to Mustangs social media for specific dates and times for the playoff series.