Comeback Falls Short as Grizzlies Fall to Chill, 5-4

LA CROSSE, Wis. – It was a tough turnaround for the Grizzlies after a dramatic victory at home Saturday night in their Pink in the Rink game. The team had just about 15 hours in between the end of Saturday’s game and puck drop Sunday against Central Division rival Coulee Region Chill. And early 1-0 lead vanished and a comeback attempt fell short as Rochester dropped Sunday’s matinee 5-4 on the road.

Hunter Wilmes started the scoring for Rochester just 5:03 into the first period. His 10th goal of the season was assisted by Jesper Hofling and Lucas Newman. The Grizzlies would keep racking up the shots in the first period but couldn’t beat Chill goalie Devin Naidow after Wilmes’ goal. Chris Gilbert tied the game for Coulee Region at 15:28 of the first period. Rochester would outshoot Coulee Region 15-7 in the first frame.

The second period saw a different story for the Grizzlies, as the Chill would rattle off three straight goals, taking a 4-1 lead. Grizzlies goalie Sean Guerin surrendered the three goals on just six shots against in the second period. Michael Heitkamp cut into the Chill lead, scoring his 12th of the season at 14:15 of the second. His goal came less than two minutes after the fourth Chill goal. Peyton Hart and Logan Olson had the assists.

The Grizzlies continued to pressure Naidow in the third period, ultimately picking up 17 shots on net. Dylan Schneider brought Rochester even closer with his eighth of the season coming at 10:26 of the third. Heitkamp and Olson assisted on the goal. The pressure kept coming from Rochester but Naidow stood tall. Parker Severson picked up his second of the game for the Chill, an empty net goal with 54 seconds left in the third period to make it 5-3. Joey Fodstad scored the fourth goal for Rochester just as time expired in the period.

It wasn’t for lack of shots for the Grizzlies, as they outshot the Chill 41-20. Olson, Heitkamp and Schneider each finished with multi-point games for Rochester.

The Grizzlies still in first place in the Central Division at 29-7-1 (59 points), now with an eight point lead over the St. Louis Jr. Blues. The Jr. Blues picked up a win Sunday over Peoria to complete a weekend sweep of the Mustangs. Rochester and Coulee Region will meet three more times this season. Meanwhile the Grizzlies won’t see the Jr. Blues again until the first weekend of March.