PEORIA, Ill – What a way to respond. After dropping Friday’s contest to Milwaukee, the Rochester Grizzlies came back and won in dominating fashion over the Peoria Mustangs, 5-1. The Grizzlies struggled to find consistency Friday, but were the much better team Saturday.
Much like Friday, the Grizzlies (1-1-0-0, 2 points) opened the scoring. Zak Justice scored a fantastic goal after weaving his way through the defense, beating Mustangs goalie Cole Walter with a backhand. The goal was Justice’s first as a member of the Grizzlies. Garrett Smith started the play with the cross-ice pass. The score would remain 1-0 for the rest of the first period and much of the second.
Penalties were the story in the game for both teams. There were six penalties in the first period and five in the second. Peoria would actually strike while shorthanded, as Ian McHenry beat Grizzlies goalie Shane Soderwall, tying the game at one at the 14:36 mark of the second. While on the same power play, Rochester would respond. Michael Heitkamp scored his first as a Grizzly, beating Walter through traffic to score an unassisted power play goal. Jesper Hofling tallied his first NA3HL goal with 1:24 left in the second, making the game 3-1. Joey Fodstad picked up the lone assist.
The final period was all Rochester. Penalties would hurt the Mustangs, as Rochester scored both goals with the man advantage. Heitkamp scored his second of the game at 5:40 of the third with Andrejs Bogdanovs picking up the assist. Bogdanovs would then score his first goal after Smith fed a perfect cross ice feed to the defenseman. Bogdanovs’ goal came at 6:43 of the third and would be the nail in the coffin.
At the end of the game, Rochester finished with seven penalties for 14 minutes while the Mustangs had 11 infractions, good for 30 minutes. The Grizzlies went 3 for 5 on the power play, which was the difference-maker in the game.
Soderwall picked up his first career win, stopping 17 of 18 shots. Rochester held Peoria to just two shots in the final period. The Grizzlies put up 24 shots on Peoria and chased Walter after the fifth goal.
The Grizzlies are back in action Friday night with their home opener against the Wausau RiverWolves at 7pm. The two teams then face each other again Saturday night, also at 7. For information on tickets, call the front office during office hours (weekdays, 9a-5p) at 507-722-0415.