ROCHESTER, Minn. – The North American 3 Hockey League prides itself on developing players and positioning them for success in higher leagues and in collegiate levels. Last season, the Rochester Grizzlies had four players appear in games with the Austin Bruins of the North American Hockey League, and as a premier organization in the NA3HL, the Grizzlies are continuing the trend of players getting time with teams in the higher levels.
Peyton Hart – Forward – Delafield, WI
Forward Peyton Hart appeared in Austin’s game Saturday evening against Minot, his first call-up to the NAHL in his career. The Delafield, WI native is in his second season in junior hockey, both with the Rochester Grizzlies. In his 58 games played in the NA3HL, Hart has recorded 51 total points (19 goals, 32 assists). At the time of this release, Hart is second on the Grizzlies in points with 15 behind only Joey Fodstad.
Logan Olson – Defenseman – Rochester, MN
As a Rochester native, Logan Olson began the 2019-20 season on the Austin Bruins roster. The defenseman played in two games with the Bruins at the NAHL Showcase in Blaine, MN before returning to the Rochester Grizzlies. This past weekend, Olson was recalled by the Bruins where he played in his third game for Austin this season. A second-year junior player, Olson has anchored the Grizzlies blue-line and earned 34 points in his career in the NA3HL.
Michael Heitkamp – Defenseman – Grand Rapids, MN
The lone call-up this season to the NAHL that wasn’t to the Austin Bruins belongs to defenseman Michael Heitkamp. The Grand Rapids, MN native played two games this season for two different NAHL clubs, the Minnesota Wilderness and the St. Cloud Blizzard. Despite not playing for the Bruins, Heitkamp’s NAHL debut came on Riverside Arena Ice when the Wilderness met the Bruins in a mid-week showdown on October 23, 2019.
For these players, and many just like them, a chance to play in games with an NAHL team not only looks better when it comes to potential colleges scouting them, but it helps them test their skills in games that many times offer a faster pace of play. While Hart still has two years of eligibility remaining after this season, Olson and Heitkamp are in their last year of eligibility for the junior hockey level. Their goal is finding a collegiate suitor and signing a letter of commitment to play college hockey next season. A chance to play a game in the NAHL helps bring that player into the eyes of collegiate scouts across the country.
It’s not just these three Grizzlies players who have spent time with NAHL teams this season, either. Forward Matt DeRosa played in games with the Bruins at the start of the season while newcomer at defense Noel Parker played with the Northeast Generals this season. This list isn’t even including the several Grizzlies who have practiced with NAHL teams at some point this season.
The goal for the Rochester Grizzlies is to continue having success on and off the ice. The team finished last season 31-15-1 (63 points) earning the first playoff birth in the team first season, and came in third in the West Division. This season, the team is off to a 9-3-0-0 (18 points) start, good for second in the Central Division. In addition to the on-ice success, the Grizzlies aim to develop players off the ice and prepare them for their future in hockey. By players getting called up to the NAHL, it shows the Grizzlies’ devotion to success and is a positive benefit for the players and the organization on the whole.