ROCHESTER, Minn. – It was too close for comfort at times, but the second-longest active home win streak in the North American 3 Hockey League is still intact. The Rochester Grizzlies held on for a 5-3 victory over the Wausau RiverWolves Friday night to extend their home win streak to nine games. The Northeast Generals extended their current home win streak to 13 games with a win Friday evening.
Coming into Friday’s game, the Grizzlies have owned the season series with the RiverWolves, winning all five games by at least a six goal margin. The most recent win was a 10-0 victory on New Year’s Eve.
Wausau would open the scoring in this game, however. Alexander Kelsall would settle down a bouncing puck right in the slot and beat Sean Guerin over the right shoulder. Kelsall took advantage of a Grizzlies turnover behind their own net to get the game’s first goal. His goal marked the first lead for the RiverWolves over the Grizzlies all season. Wausau came out energized and would actually hold the lead for about seven minutes until Porter Haney tied it with his second goal in as many games and 13th of the season. Haney jammed at a loose puck that Tyler Klatt didn’t cover and knocked it home before the RiverWolves goalie could get it under him. Devin Hays and Joey Fodstad picked up the assists.
Just 4:23 into the second period, Garrett Smith would be guilty of a high sticking penalty and sit in the box for two minutes. It took the RiverWolves 17 seconds to capitalize on the man-advantage as Blake Neudecker beat Guerin with a wrist shot to make it 2-1. Neudecker’s fifth of the season only gave Wausau the lead for just over two minutes before Zak Justice tied it up with his ninth of the season. Justice received a pass from Paul Hofbauer and beat Klatt high to the glove side from just inside the left face-off dot. The Grizzlies would capitalize on their own power play chance after some nice passing by the unit on the ice. Jesper Hofling received a great feed from across the ice by Joey Fodstad and knocked home his eighth of the season at the 10:47 mark. Haney also picked up an assist.
Rochester got the lead for the first time after Hofling’s goal and would not give it up. Hofbauer went crossbar and down for his fifth goal of the season at 13:48 of the third period, extending the lead to 4-2 for the Grizzlies. The goal came unassisted. Wausau would not go away quietly, however. After an odd shift where Guerin lost his goal stick and had to use Michael Heitkamp’s for a brief time, Mitchel Idalski was left alone in front and beat Guerin to make it a one-goal game. Idalski’s goal came at 14:38 of the third, just 50 seconds after Hofbauer’s goal. Haney added the back-breaker with a minute left for his second of the game to make it 5-3.
Haney finished off a solid night with two goals and an assist. Hofling, Hofbauer and Fodstad also had multi-point nights for the Grizzlies. Guerin stopped 15 shots to pick up his sixth win of the season. Rochester and Wausau will meet two more times this season, both of the games being held in Wausau.
The Grizzlies are back home Saturday night for a date with the Granite City Lumberjacks. Rochester, now sitting at 27-6-1 (53 points) is six points up on the St. Louis Jr. Blues for first place in the Central Division. The Jr. Blues play Saturday and Sunday against the New Ulm Steel. Rochester and Granite City have the season series split at one win apiece. The old West Division foes will square off in a Saturday Night Showdown game sponsored by Sterling State Insurance Agency. Puck drop is set for 7 PM from the Rochester Recreation Center.