ROCHESTER, MN –The Rochester Grizzlies commanded play for the majority of the 60 minutes Friday evening as they toppled the Oregon Tradesmen 5-1 in game one of the Central Division Finals. Cole Gibson led the way with two goals while Layten Liffrig and Ben Oakland finished with three points each.
Rochester controlled most of the first period but could not solve Oregon goalie Austin Bartell for quite some time. It wasn’t until a four-on-three power play that Liffrig finished off a pass from Logan Kroyman, beating Bartell clean to open the scoring for the Grizzlies. The goal marked Liffrig’s third of the playoffs. Rochester would put up 19 shots on net in the first, as well.
The second period saw more scoring, this time goals from both teams. Kade Shea finished off a great passing play from Liffrig and Oakland, tapping home the puck into a yawning cage to make it 2-0 Rochester at the 6:06 mark. Dillon Schmidt would come back at 9:32 for Oregon as he beat Zach Wiese to the glove side on a three-on-two rush for the Tradesmen. The two-goal lead for the Grizzlies would last about three minutes when Gibson tallied his first of the evening. Liffrig passed the puck in front of the net to Gibson, who just came on the ice for a line change, and he chipped it past a sprawling Bartell who tried to cover the puck.
Oakland would make his goal a highlight-reel one. Gibson banked the puck off the boards from his own end, leading Oakland perfectly as he fielded the puck in the Oregon zone and used his speed to get around the defense and beat Bartell on the backhand. Gibson’s second of the night would come on the power play at 14:17 of the third period.
Rochester would out-shoot Oregon 52-23 on the evening. The power play was key for the Grizzlies as they would go two-for-three with the extra man. Wiese stopped 22 of 23 shots.
Game two is Saturday evening at 7 from Oregon. That game can be found on Hockey TV. Game three, if necessary, will be back at the Rochester Recreation Center Sunday afternoon at 3.