Jason Feldman email@example.com Sept 30, 2018 Rochester Post Bulletin
Max Clouser battles for playing time every day in practice.
The Rochester Grizzlies have three talented goalies – Clouser,
Liam Kelly and recent addition Nick Bucklin – who are forcing the coaching staff to make a difficult decision each game night as to who starts, who dresses as the backup and who sits.
“(Clouser) was really good; all three of our guys have been good,” Grizzlies head coach Casey Mignone said. “It’s making things tougher for me, but I don’t mind that.”
Clouser’s turn in the early-season starting rotation came up on Saturday night, and the 6-foot, 175-pounder from Ithaca, N.Y., made the most of it. Clouser stopped 26 of the 28 shots he faced to lead the Grizzlies to a 6-2 victory against the Willmar WarHawks on Saturday at the Rochester Recreation Center.
The WarHawks scored just 11 second into the game, but Clouser made life difficult on them the rest of the way.
“You just try to forget about it and stay focused,” Clouser said. “If you get scored on, you can’t let it affect you. You just have to focus on the next shot and play in the moment.”
Clouser’s biggest stop came just more than a minute into the second period, when he made a pad save on Willmar’s Steven Grannass on a breakaway to preserve a 2-1 Grizzlies lead at the time.
“I thought Max rebounded nicely after that (early goal),” Mignone said. “That can sometimes send a goalie into a little bit of a tailspin, but he came back and made some really nice saves that kept us close until we started to skate.”
Clouser improved to 2-0-0 with the win; his goals-against average is just 2.14 and he has a .911 save percentage. Kelly and Bucklin are in line with similar stats early in the season.
“We all get along super well,” Clouser said. “We’ll compete hard in practice, but we all get along really well. Liam and Nick are both great guys.”
Veteran defenseman Seth Bacon scored two goals Saturday – including popping the water bottle on a highlight-reel slap shot from the high slot on a first-period power play – and added one assist.
Willmar tied the score 2-2 in the second period, but Caden Duggan gave the Grizzlies the lead for good with 3 minutes to go in the second.
Richard Szabo also scored in the first period for Rochester, his team-leading sixth goal of the season. He finished the weekend with four goals and one assist in two games.
Peyton Hart, Porter Haney and Bacon scored once each in the third period as the Grizzlies pulled away. Szabo, Haney, Duggan, Vladislav Sorokin and Brock Hildebrand had one assist each.
“We have a lot of young guys, new guys. As we’re all settling in to junior hockey, we’re jelling really nicely,” Bacon, a team captain, said. “We have talented guys on the ice, like (Szabo and Sorokin) who we just picked up a couple weeks ago. They came in and fit in right away.”
The Grizzlies (4-1-0) are on a four-game winning streak, including a 3-1 victory against perennial league power North Iowa on Friday. Rochester plays host to Willmar again at 7:05 p.m. Friday at the Rec Center.
“Being a new organization, we have to prove something and that’s what we did this weekend,” Bacon said. “We showed that we’re here to play. It shows everyone who we are. We can’t come out and play flat next weekend; we have to keep buzzing and build on this momentum. We know what we’re capable of and have to keep going on the same track.”
Grizzlies 6, WarHawks 2
Willmar: Angelo Perry 1 goal; Jacob Berkowitz 1 goal; Kevin Swope 1 assist; Brendan Hill 1 assist; Trent Sylvester 1 assist. Goalie: Moritz Ertl 42 saves (48 shots).
Rochester: Seth Bacon 2 goals, 1 assist; Porter Haney 1 goal, 1 assist; Vlad Sorokin 1 assist; Richard Szabo 1 goal, 1 assist; Caden Duggan 1 goal, 1 assist; Brock Hildenbrand 1 assist; Peyton Hart 1 goal. Goalie: Maxim Clouser 26 saves (28 shots).