St. Louis Jr. Blues at Peoria Mustangs
VENUE: Owens Center, Peoria, Ill.
GAME TIMES: September 9 at 6:45 PM, September 10 at 1:15 PM (all times Central)
WHERE TO FOLLOW: All Jr. Blues games are streamed live on HockeyTV.com (subscription required). On Twitter, follow @JrBluesGameday for live updates.
THE RIVALRY RENEWS: The last time St. Louis and Peoria played each other was in March of 2017, when the Jr. Blues defeated the Mustangs 6-3 in Game 3 of the Midwest Division Finals to clinch their second straight trip to the Silver Cup Finals. The regular season series between the two clubs last year was an even split, both teams winning four of the eight games played.
PRESEASON ROUND-UP: The Jr. Blues went 2-0 in their exhibition schedule against ACHA D-II opposition, defeating McKendree University 5-1 on September 1 and Saint Louis University 10-1 on September 3. Dante Jones (Toronto, Ont.) was the first star against the Bearcats with two goals, while Matt Monreal (Wauwatosa, Wis.) and Ethan Dabbs (Manchester, Mo.) each netted hat-tricks versus the Billikens. Both games served as a chance not only to allow coaches to observe players in a competitive setting, but also gave the Jr. Blues’ fourteen rookies a chance to acclimate to junior rules and game procedures.
SCOUTING THE OPPONENT: The Mustangs will have a new but familiar face behind the bench this year: after Dave Karpa stepped down following the 2016-17 campaign, Steve Ortman accepted the position of head coach. Ortman previously served as coach in 2013-14, a year where the Mustangs won the Midwest Division: in the interim he was on the coaching staff of the SPHL’s Peoria Rivermen. Like the Jr. Blues, Peoria has a large amount of new faces—13, to be precise—but also has quality returning talent such as Braden Stewart (27 G, 34 A in 2016-17) and Jack Healy (11 G, 14A last season).
JUNIOR NOTES: A reminder to fans that the home opener scheduled for next weekend against Nashville has been re-scheduled to later in the season. Instead, the Jr. Blues begin their campaign at Affton Ice Rink next month versus the North Iowa Bulls: games will be on October 6 at 7 p.m. and October 7 at 2 p.m.