The NA3HL and the Rochester Grizzlies pride themselves on helping develop young hockey players to help them grow and move on to the next level. Whether that be advancing them to the NAHL, the Collegiate level, or beyond! Let catch up with a handful of former Grizzlies to see what they have been up to since their time in Rochester! In this edition of the Grizzlies Alumni Report, we will be focusing on NCAA Divison 3 and the NAHL.
NAHL: To begin, let’s focus our attention on the North American Hockey League and check in on a few former players as well as a former coach who is having early success in his first season.
Shane Soderwall: Soderwall was a key piece to the Grizzlies 2020-21 run to the Fraser Cup Finals. The Algonquin Hills, Illinois Native had a phenomenal season for the Black and Gold, sporting a 1.30 GAA, .949 SV%, and 26-3-1 record which lead Soderwall to the Vaughn NA3HL Goalie of the Year. This season, Soderwall is currently playing with the Anchorage Wolverines of the Midwest Division of the NAHL. In 10 games played this season, Shane is sporting a 4-6-0 record with a 2.99 GAA and a .885 SV%.
Collin Pederson: The Owatonna, Minnesota native is off to a strong start with the Anchorage Wolverines this season. In 17 games this season, Pederson has collected 3G-4A-7P and has a +3 rating so far this season. During his time with the Grizzlies last season, Pederson appeared in 18 games and collected 4G-8A-12P.
Blake Arneson: Arneson was a late addition to the Grizzlies in the 20-21 season after coming over from the Witchita Falls Warriors of the NAHL. The Red Wing, Minnesota native appeared in 20 games for the Grizzlies lit up the score sheet almost every night. Arneson tallied 7G-11A-18G while patrolling the Blue Line for Rochester. This season, Arneson has found a home in Minot with the Minotauros after starting the season with the Jamestown Rebels. In 13 games this season for Minot, Arneson is sporting 1G-6A-7P and a +4 rating.
Mike Aikens: Mike is in his first season as Head Coach for the Anchorage Wolverines after spending the previous 3 seasons in Rochester serving as an Assistant Coach. Aikens has had a very successful coaching career as he began his time behind the bench with the Omaha Lancers (USHL) in 1995. Coach Aikens has spent time Coaching in the USHL, NAHL, BCHL, and the NA3HL when he joined the Grizzlies Coaching staff back in the 2018-19 season. This season for the Wolverines, Aikens lead the team to their first win in franchise history on September 16th in a 2-1 win over the Danbury Jr. Hat Tricks. Anchorage currently has a record of 13-6-1 in 20 games played and is sitting tied for 3rd place in the Midwest Divison with 27 Points.
NCAA D.3: From the NAHL to the NCAA, let’s check in with some former Grizzlies competing at the College Level!
Peyton Hart: The 2020-21 NA3HL MVP and All-Time Games Played leader for the Grizzlies had a successful career at the NA3HL level with the Black and Gold. In 142 career games, Hart collected 57G-83A-140P. Hart’s MVP season last year helped lead the Grizzlies to back-to-back Central Division Championships and a spot in the Fraser Cup Finals. This season, Hart is playing for the Blue Devils of the University of Wisconsin-Stout. In 4 games played this season, Hart has 1G-1A-2P and collected his first career NCAA D.3 point on November 5th vs. the College of St. Scholastica, and his first career goal on November 18th vs. Northland College and the 14:32 mark of the 3rd Period.
Matt DeRosa: The Alpharetta, Georgia native had a very successful career with the Grizzlies. DeRosa appeared in 135 career games and accumulated 76G-64A-140P during his time in Rochester. DeRosa now finds himself in St. Cloud, Minnesota playing for the Saint John’s University Johnnies. In 7 games played this season, DeRosa has 2G-0A-2P on the young season and is sporting a +2 rating. Matt collected his first career NCAA D.3 goal on November 6th vs Milwaukee School of Engineering at 14:31 of the 2nd period.
Garret Smith: Staying in St. Cloud, we now take a look at Garret Smith. Smith, who is also the college roommate and teammate of Matt DeRosa at Saint John’s played 2 seasons for the Grizzlies from 2019-2021. During his time, Smith appeared in 89 games and amassed 18G-74A-92P and a career +78 rating. Smith has appeared in 4 games for the Johnnies this season and as a +1 rating.
On the Next Editon of the Grizzlies Alumni Report, we will continue to look at the NCAA D.3 level as well as check-in with a few former Grizzlies playing College hockey in the ACHA!