ROCHESTER, Minn. – It might not have been the way they drew it up, but the Rochester Grizzlies locked up the top seed in the North American 3 Hockey League Central Division with a 4-3 win Friday night over the Milwaukee Power. Rochester needed at least one point Friday night, or, if it didn’t get a single point, would have needed a Peoria loss in any fashion.
The first period started off with the Grizzlies piling up the shots on Power goalie Ewan McDevitt. McDevitt made strong saves to keep Rochester off the scoreboard, blocking all 23 shots the Grizzlies sent his way. That included keeping the Grizzlies out of the net on an extended five-on-three power play.
Milwaukee broke the ice first, as Tyler Nelson converted on the power play just 2:12 into the second period. That goal marked the first power play goal Milwaukee has scored all season against the Grizzlies. The lead lasted just under two minutes as Blake Arneson continued his strong play with the Grizzlies, tallying his fifth goal in his eighth game. Arneson finished off a net mouth feed from Joey Fodstad. The Power would continue their strong play with the man-advantage, as Nate Stone beat Zach Wiese high to the glove side at 12:21 of the second period, making it 2-1 Milwaukee.
Rochester would enter the third period trailing 2-1, but that’s where it would bounce back. Dylan Schneider, the reigning NA3HL Central Division Star of the Week, finished off a beautiful feed from behind the net by Garrett Smith to tie the game at two just 1:27 into the third. Matt DeRosa’s first of the evening would give Rochester the lead at 8:05 of the third, knocking home a pass from Fodstad as McDevitt was out of position in net.
In one of the craziest goals perhaps all season, Ben Cremers would tie it up just 28 seconds later for Milwaukee. Wiese came out of his net to play the puck, but his stick would break in two pieces and Cremers scored on the empty net to tie the game at three. The tie would last until the 11:20 mark where DeRosa’s second, which looked similar to his first, would give Rochester a 4-3 lead it would not relinquish.
For the second straight season, the Grizzlies (31-5-0-1, 63 points) capture the NA3HL Central Division regular season title and earned home-ice advantage throughout the first two rounds of the playoffs. As of now, the Grizzlies would play the Oregon Tradesmen in the first round of the playoffs. With the loss, the Power are officially eliminated from the Fraser Cup Playoffs.
Rochester and Milwaukee will play for the final time this season Saturday night from the Rochester Recreation Center. Puck drop is 7:05 PM as Rochester looks to complete the season sweep against Milwaukee, having won the first seven games.