Mustangs Swept On Road, Head Home For Showdown With Grizzlies

Photo Credit: Noah Markuna

Rancilio’s 2 goal Saturday not enough to earn victory in Sauk Rapids

Sauk Rapids, MN – The Peoria Mustangs made their one and only trip to Sauk Rapids, MN this past weekend for a pair of games with the West Division leader, Granite City Lumberjacks. Peoria fell behind Friday night and came to within one before an explosion of second period goals. Saturday night, the Mustangs grabbed their first lead of the season series with Granite City before the Lumberjacks eventually tied the game and marched to victory. With the pair of weekend losses, the Mustangs fall to 20-13-2, fourth place, one point behind third place Milwaukee.

Friday: PEO 1 – GCY 8

Friday night the Lumberjacks took a two goal lead before the Mustangs cut the lead in half, then a second period goal explosion propelled the home team to victory as they netted 6 unanswered goals and coasted to an 8-1 victory.

Granite City opened the scoring just past the midway point of the opening period when Kyle Mortenson collected his 9th goal of the season while skating on the power play at 10:05 of the opening stanza. The Lumberjacks increased their lead in the late stages of the first period, also on the power play, Zak Kennett collected his 4th goal of the season at 18:32 of the opening period giving the hosts a 2-0 advantage.

Peoria cut into the lead in the final seconds of the first period while skating on the power play, Caleb Bross found Chris Kondiles station just outside the left circle and shipped a pass to his line mate. Kodiles received the pass and snapped a shot that sailed over the shoulder of Granite City goaltender Paul Cassin and into the back of the net at 19:33, cutting the lead to 2-1.

The Lumberjacks came out in the middle period and collected three goals in the opening 4:45 of the period to grow their lead, the first coming shorthanded. Nolan Widman stole the puck just to the right of the crease and slipped the puck past Cam Pendleton just 58 seconds into the middle frame and a 3-1 Lumberjacks lead.

Granite City added a trio of goals the remainder of the second period the first coming at 3:19 off the stick of Carson Van Zuilen, his 6th of the season. Jacob McPartland added a tally at 4:45 of the period and Zak Kennett netted his second power play tally of the night at 12:58 of the middle period. Through 40 minutes of action the Lumberjacks were in front by a 6-1 score.

The Lumberjacks collected a pair of goals in the third and final period the first at 13:42 off the stick of Lyncoln Bielenberg-Howarth, his 12th of the season, also on the power play. Granite City rounded out the scoring with under 2 minutes left in regulations when Nolan Widman tallied his second of the contest and 5thof the season at 18:37 sealing the 8-1 victory for the Lumberjacks.

Cam Pendleton collected the loss between the pipes stopping 14 of 19 shots faced in 24:45 of action, with the loss Pendleton falls to 6-9-2 on the season. Kason Yamada replaced Pendleton early in the second period and stopped 12 of 15 shots faced in 35:15 of action.

Saturday: PEO 2 – GCY 5

Saturday night the Musangs grabbed their first lead of the season series and held it for a minute and seven seconds before the Lumberjacks tied the game and eventually took the lead for good and skated to a 5-2 victory in the second game of the weekend series.

After a scoreless opening 20 minutes the Mustangs opened the scoring early in the middle period when Massimo Polistina put a shot on goal, the shot was initially turned aside but, Joey Rancilio was parked just below the hash marks and swatted the puck as he was spun around by a defender. The puck tipped off Rancilio’s stick and slid past Granite City netminder Ryan Lehet at 2:29 of second period and a 1-0 Mustangs lead.

The Lumberjacks tied the game and eventually took the lead after the Peoria opening goal. Granite City tied the game while skating on the power play, Parker Mitchell collected his 8th goal of the season knotting the game at one each. The Lumberjacks took the lead a little over 8 minutes later when Kyle Mortenson netted his 10th of the season giving the home team a 2-1 lead through 40 minutes of action.

The third period would prove to be kryptonite for the Mustangs as the Lumberjacks increased their lead just 21 seconds into the frame, Tanner Brouwer collected his first goal of the season on the power play and a 3-1 Lumberjacks lead. Granite City added to their lead just a little over a minute later, Matthew Delany netted his 2nd goal of the season at 1:38 of the third period and added an insurance goal at the 4:58 mark of the third period for a 5-1 score.

Peoria didn’t go down without a fight as they added a goal just past the midway point of the third period. Polistina once again put the puck on net and an initial save was made. Rancilio crashed the net and swatted at the loose puck putting in past Lehet, into the back of the net at 10:47 for the eventual 5-2 final score.

Cam Pendleton suffered the loss between the pipes for the Mustangs, stopping 41 of 46 shots in the contest, with the loss Pendleton falls to 6-10-2 on the season.

Stable Notes:

– The Mustangs finished 0-4-0 head-to-head versus Granite City this season.

-Joey Rancilio collected his second multi-goal game of the season on Saturday night.

-Saturday night the Mustangs were awarded two power plays to Granite City’s 6.

-The Musangs penalty kill allowed 6 total power play goals all weekend on 12 total attempts.

-The Mustangs appeared to catch a break late in the opening period when forward Ethan Chesney was cross checked in the mouth, Chesney showed the officials blood but, Chesney was escorted to the penalty box along with Tucker Skime, each for roughing.

What’s Ahead:

The Mustangs return home for a showdown with the Rochester Grizzlies Friday and Saturday the 27th and 28 of January. Friday night’s contest is scheduled for a 7:00 p.m. puck drop, and Saturday evening is slated to get underway at 6:00 p.m. The games will be broadcast live on HockeyTV, or you can follow along on Mustangs social media platforms.