ROCHESTER, Minn. – The Rochester Grizzlies of the North American 3 Hockey League will be well represented at the league’s Top Prospects Tournament Feb. 17-18 in Attleboro, MA. Six players will be representing the team, along with Head Coach Chris Ratzloff who is set to be the bench boss for the Central Division squad. Forwards Porter Haney and Jesper Hofling, defensemen Logan Olson and Michael Heitkamp, and goalie Mathias Backstrom will represent the Central Division. Forward Nic Leisen will join the Northeast Division team.
Haney, 20, is in his second season with the Grizzlies. The native of Duluth, MN, is enjoying a solid season with Rochester. He sits third in points with 36 (14 goals, 22 assists) in 30 games. He has already eclipsed his total of 30 from last season. Haney has also played one game with the Minnesota Wilderness of the North American Hockey League this season.
Hofling, 20, is in his first season with the Grizzlies and his first in North America. Hofling has enjoyed success with Rochester, sitting sixth in points with 27 (eight goals, 19 assists). A native of Galve, Sweden, he previously played for the Valbo HC program.
Olson is representing his hometown team well. The 20-year-old Rochester, MN, native is in his second season with Rochester. His point production is not what it was last season (he has 13 points so far compared to 28 total last season) but he has stayed mainly on the top pairing defensive unit with Heitkamp for most of the season. Olson also played in three games with the Austin Bruins of the NAHL this season.
Heitkamp is having a successful first season with the Grizzlies. At 20-years-old, Heitkamp is in his first and only season of eligibility with the Grizzlies, just like Hofling. The Grand Rapids, MN, native leads all Grizzlies’ defensemen in points with 25 (11 goals, 14 assists) in 32 games. Earlier this season he became the first defenseman in Grizzlies history to score a hat trick in a game. Heitkamp has also played in one game each with the St. Cloud Blizzard and Minnesota Wilderness of the NAHL.
Backstrom has solidified his spot as the No. 1 goalie for the Grizzlies. The 19-year-old from Malmo, Sweden has the second best goals against average in the league at 1.55. He boasts a 13-3 record and a .938 save percentage to go along with it. Backstrom also has three shutouts on the season.
Leisen, 20, is the lone representative for the Grizzlies on the Northeast Division. The Kasson, MN, native is also in his second season with the team. Last season he had 19 points in 27 games for Rochester. This season, Leisen already has 21 points (eight goals, 13 assists) in 33 games.
Rochester was awarded with five players representing the Central Division due to it being in first place by the roster freeze date, which was Monday, Jan. 20. Since the Grizzlies were in first and had the best win percentage, they were awarded five players, the most representatives on the team. The Grizzlies were also able to send an extra player to the Top Prospects Tournament but to be a part of the Northeast Division team, which was Leisen. Any schedule information can be found on the NA3HL league website. Each team will play three games in two days.
All six of these players, along with the rest of the Grizzlies, will be in action this Saturday at home for the second annual Pink in the Rink Night. The Grizzlies will be raising money to be donated to Mayo Clinic for cancer research. Fans can participate in a live jersey auction immediately following the game, as well. It’s also another Saturday Night Showdown sponsored by Sterling State Insurance Agency. Puck drop is 7 PM from the Rochester Recreation Center. For more information, call the front office at 507-722-0415.