LA CROSSE, Wis. – With the regular season winding down, the Grizzlies already have home-ice advantage set for the first round of the Fraser Cup Playoffs. They can finish no lower than second place in the Central Division. The team is now gunning for the top seed in the division and a win Saturday over Coulee Region would help that. Despite putting up the shots on net, the Grizzlies fell in a close game, 3-2 in a shootout.
Rochester was looking for some redemption after the last time these two teams met, with the Chill winning that one 5-4. Cody Reagle continued his strong week by opening the scoring for the Grizzlies. Reagle’s fifth of the season came at 13:25 of the first period with Paul Hofbauer and Luke McKinch providing the assists. The Grizzlies would put up 20 shots on Chill goalie Devin Naidow while Shane Soderwall would only see five Chill shots.
The Chill came back in the second period with Marco Escobar tying the game at 11:53 of the second period. The second period was more evenly matched with Coulee Region putting up 15 shots compared to 13 from the Grizzlies.
McKinch provided his second goal in as many games when he beat Naidow at 11:29 of the third period. That marked his second point of the evening. Clayton Shultz and Reagle assisted on McKinch’s second goal of the season. The lead lasted about four minutes as Dylan Dent scored just two seconds into a late third period power play for the Chill. Reagle was in the box for roughing.
Neither team would score in overtime, despite the Grizzlies getting a late power play. Rochester’s man advantage struggles would continue as it went 0 for 4 Saturday and is in a 0 for 34 slump dating back to Jan. 24.
Gadel Khismatulin scored the lone shootout goal for both teams as Joey Fodstad, Michael Heitkamp and Matt DeRosa were all stopped by Naidow.
The Grizzlies end the weekend 31-8-1-1 good for 64 points. This was the first shootout loss for the Grizzlies this season in only their second time. They are nine points up on St. Louis for the top seed in the division and 10 points up on Coulee Region. The Chill and Grizzlies have each played 41 games while the Jr. Blues have played 43. Coulee Region is the only team that can catch Rochester for first place in the Central Division.
Rochester is back home Friday the 21st to meet up with these very same Coulee Region Chill. It will be the seventh of eight meetings between the teams this season. The season series is now tied at three wins apiece. Puck drop is set for 7 PM from the Rochester Recreation Center.