ROCHESTER, MN – For the second time in three weeks, the Rochester Grizzlies found themselves in a shootout. This time, they were on the winning side. Spencer Klotz picked up the shootout winner while Lyncoln Bielenberg-Howarth scored two goals in regulation as Rochester completed the weekend sweep of the Peoria Mustangs with a 4-3 win.
The visiting Mustangs came into Saturday’s game with a lot more competition after Friday’s 7-3 loss. Joey Rancilio opened the scoring 2:48 into the first after a nice move past a defenseman and beat new Grizzlies goalie Chris Brown high on the short side. Bielenberg-Howarth collected his first of the evening on the power play at 11:25 of the first period. He picked the puck up from behind the net and beat Cam Pendleton with a wrap-around goal. That marked the second straight game with a power play goal for Bielenberg-Howarth. Ben Oakland and Austin Meers assisted on the goal.
Massimo Polistina scored an early power play goal for Peoria, tipping in a Sean Patrick Merck shot at 1:08 of the second. The penalty train would continue in the second period, as Rochester would have four power play opportunities but was unable to convert.
Bielenberg-Howarth got his second at 8:10 of the third after Per Waage banked the puck perfectly off the glass for Bielenberg-Howarth to collect in stride and beat Pendleton to the glove side for a pretty goal. That goal marked Bielenberg-Howarth’s 10th of the season. He is now the second Grizzly to reach double-digit goals, with Spencer Klotz at 11. Just 20 seconds after that goal, Marco Sandelgard crept in from the point and finished off a behind-the-net feed from Adler Johnston, beating Pendleton through traffic. Johnston just joined the team from the Austin Bruins this week. Ethan Chesney tied the game for the Mustangs at 12:47 of the third.
Neither team would find the back of the net in overtime, despite the Grizzlies starting the period with 1:23 worth of power play time. Chesney opened the scoring in the shootout in round one before Erik Hernborn scored a nifty goal in round two to tie it. The shootout would go to sudden death round four, where Klotz got just enough of his shot to see it creep past Pendleton for the win.
This marked the first shootout win of the season for Rochester and the first shootout loss of the season for Peoria. Rochester is now 18-5-1 (37 points) and still in first place in the Central Division. Brown, who started the season on the Austin Bruins roster, picked up the win by stopping 24 of 27 shots. Rochester put up 47 shots on net in the victory.
The Grizzlies are on the road next weekend for two games against the Milwaukee Power. They’re the final two games before the NA3HL Showcase in Blaine, MN from Dec. 18-20.