St. Louis Jr. Blues (10-2-0-0, 20 pts) at Peoria Mustangs (6-7-1-0, 13 pts)
VENUE: Owens Center, Peoria, Ill.
GAME TIMES: October 29 at 6:45 PM, October 30 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.
WHO’S HOT FOR THE JR. BLUES: Jack Hatton (Naperville, IL) was named Bauer Star of the Week for the Midwest Division after his performances against Evansville. He ended the weekend with nine points (5G+4A) and a +7 rating, including a four-goal haul on Friday night in Indiana.
SMITTY GETS A CALL-UP: Goaltender Hunter Smith (Flower Mound, TX) joins the NAHL’s Springfield Jr. Blues this weekend as an affiliate player. Smith has posted a 1.61 goals-against average and a .938 save percentage in his five games with St. Louis, including two shutouts in his last two starts. He will dress for both games of a Friday-Saturday weekend series in the Illinois state capital against the Janesville Jets (captained by Jr. Blues alumnus Adam Roeder) and then will travel to Peoria to rejoin the Jr. Blues.
YOUNG TALENT TIME: Four of the Jr. Blues’ top five scorers—Ivan Galaguzov (Yekaterinburg, RUS), Nick Balestra (Ballwin, MO), Hatton and Daniil Ovchinnikov (St. Petersburg, RUS)–are playing their first season in American junior hockey. All are averaging more than a point per game, with Galaguzov leading the team in scoring with 21 points (5G+16A) and Balestra one behind with 20 points (8G+12A).
SCOUTING THE OPPONENT: Under first-year head coach Dave Karpa, the Mustangs come into this series in the midst of a six-game losing skid, albeit against a very tough schedule: their last three opponents were Nashville (who swept them out of last season’s Midwest Division playoffs), defending Silver Cup finalists Metro, and West Division contenders Granite City. Peoria is led by a veteran core, with Austin Wisely topping the scoring charts with 23 points (9 goals, 14 assists) and Zach Cox, Braden Stewart and Anthony Iacullo all having potted at least ten goals each.
JUNIOR NOTES: St. Louis won last year’s season series against Peoria 5-2-1, with three of the eight games decided in overtime or a shootout….With Smith unavailable for the Saturday game, the Jr. Blues have called up Will Oliver from the STL Prospects U18 AAA club to serve as an emergency goalie for the weekend.