3View: Peoria Mustangs | North American Tier III Hockey League | NA3HL
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3View: Peoria Mustangs

September 2, 2023

The 3View series will feature an in-depth look into all NA3HL teams in preparation for the 2023-24 season, with two teams being highlighted daily, leading all the way up until the start of the regular season. 3View goes in-depth into each NA3HL team and will include interviews with all the head coaches in the NA3HL, as they provide fans with their expectations and outlook for the 2023-24 season, including taking a look at their potential roster and their strengths as a team for the upcoming season. It will also take a look back on the 2022-23 season and how each team fared and what they accomplished. Best of all, 3View will provide the fans of the NA3HL with an inside look at their favorite team and what to expect.

Peoria Mustangs

Head Coach: Blake Ortman (1st season)

2022-23 Record: 26-18-3, 55 pts (4th in the Central Division)

2022-23 Leading Scorer: Ethan Chesney (70 points)

2023 Playoffs: Lost in the Central Division Semi-Finals to Rochester, 2 games to 1

2023-24 Division: Central Division

The Peoria Mustangs continued their success in the NA3HL after appearing in the postseason for the 12th consecutive season. The Mustangs snagged the final spot in the Central Division with the fourth seed in the 2022-23 Fraser Cup Playoffs where they were eventually bounced by the reigning Champion Rochester Grizzlies.

“Last year we had expectations to make a run at a championship,” new Head Coach Blake Ortman said. “We were old and had a lot of experience and we felt we had a chance to compete for a cup. We ultimately fell short of our goal failing to get out of a very tough Central Division.”

Ortman, who took the reins as Head Coach of the Mustangs over the summer, has been around the team for quite some time. Previously, the team was coached by his father, Steve Ortman, and after 24 years with the Mustangs, Steve stepped down and retired from coaching and Blake was named Head Coach.

During Steve’s time as Head Coach, Blake played for the Mustangs from 2009-14 before heading to Midland University to play collegiate hockey. In his time behind the bench, Blake made stops at Midland University, Peoria Mustangs, and the El Paso Rhinos (NAHL) as an assistant coach.

“This will be my fourth-year coaching under the NAHL umbrella,” Blake said. “One year in the NAHL and 3rd year in the NA3HL and I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else the way the league is run and the way our players are promoted is second to none,” Ortman said. I feel very fortunate to be able to coach in this league and especially here in Peoria as we enter our twenty-fourth season as an organization.”

With a veteran based team, and a Coach that was once in their skates, the Mustangs advanced an outstanding number of players onto collegiate hockey last year.

“We moved fourteen players on to college and one player, Edvards Bergmanis, to the University of Alaska-Fairbanks [Division One],” Ortman said. “Thirteen players to ACHA division one schools as well. We are extremely excited for these players. They got to go to great schools where they can continue their hockey careers and get a great education.”

Even with a tremendous amount of players moving on to the next level, the Mustangs have kept a good number of players that will be returning to play in Peoria. One of those players, Massimo Polistina, who totaled 42 points last year, will be looked at to make another offensive presence this season.

“On forward we have Massimo Polistina who will be relied on in all situations and be a big presence in our locker room with the leadership he brings to the table,” Ortman said. “We also have Robin Kuusik who has grown a ton as a player and will be an offensive threat for us this year. On Defense we have Sam Truxaw and Declan McDermott who can play all situations and will also be carrying a heavy responsibility as a part of our leadership group. Zachary Lacasse is another defenseman who is on the cusp of making it to the next level. We are looking for him to have a big year and make the jump to the NAHL.”

With a veteran-corps of returning players, and a recipe for success from seasons past, the Mustangs believe that will make a deep run this season.

“We are expecting to make the playoffs this season and we are going to be putting a huge focus on development for our young team this year after losing twelve forwards, four defensemen and all three goaltenders,” Ortman said. “We have tons of new faces that are hungry and ready to develop. I am extremely excited to get this season going.”

Next Up: Rochester Grizzlies

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