MASON CITY, Iowa – The Rochester Grizzlies and North Iowa Bulls were both in for a battle in their round one match-up. Friday night proved no different. The Grizzlies had a 2-1 lead for the majority of the game, only to see it disappear at the hands of a 4-2 loss to the Bulls in game one of the best-of-three series.
The first period started off rather back-and-forth, with both teams garnering chances. North Iowa opened the scoring at 6:21 of the first as Nick Bowlin beat Grizzlies goalie Nick Bucklin right off a face off win from Matt Dahlseide. The score would only stay that way for 11 seconds as Matt DeRosa redirected a shot from Oskar Stahl past Dysen Skinner to tie the game. It would stay that way for the rest of the period, with play getting more physical as the game went on.
Play would start to amp up in the second, with both teams continuing to trade chances. North Iowa’s best chance came at 5:56 of the second when Peter Verstegen was awarded a penalty shot. He tried to deke Bucklin, but the goalie stood tall and made a left pad save to keep the game knotted at one. Rochester broke the tie at 8:47 as Joey Fodstad knocked home a rebound for his first of the playoffs. Hunter Hall and Stahl added the assists.
North Iowa picked up the play in the third period. At times the Grizzlies would be hemmed in their own zone for extended periods of time, unable to get the puck out. With just under six minutes to go in the third, Jarod Blackowiak knocked the puck past Bucklin, tying the game at two. Just two minutes later, Rochester would have trouble getting the puck out again and Carter Wagner fired the puck in the net, giving North Iowa a 3-2 lead.
“We made some poor puck decisions late in the game. Can’t be cheating for offense, 2-1 five minutes left in the game. It’s not the right mindset to have. You get burned, getting beat back to the net, turn the puck over at the blue line. It’s the same thing on the third goal, as well,” said Head Coach Casey Mignone.
Wagner would add an empty net goal to seal the deal for the Bulls. Rochester and North Iowa would each finish with 27 shots and neither team had a successful power play. The Grizzlies went 0/4 (albeit one power play came with four seconds left in the third) and the Bulls would go 0/3. Mignone expects the problems from tonight’s game to be easy fixes.
“It’s just having the right mindset. Do we want to manage the puck a little bit better? We need our best players to be our best players,” said Mignone.
These two teams are back at it Saturday from the Rochester Rec Center for game two. Puck drop is set for 7:05. Tickets are just $10 for adults and $7 for students/seniors/military. Game three, if necessary, would be back in Mason City, IA Sunday evening.