MASON CITY, IA. – Revenge for last season’s playoff exit would have to wait for the Rochester Grizzlies. The Grizzlies were in Mason City, IA to face the North Iowa Bulls for the first time since the West Division semi-finals of the 2018-19 season, where the Bulls won the best-of-three series in three games. After taking a 2-1 lead into the second period, the Grizzlies would not score again and ultimately fell 8-2 to the Bulls.
Peyton Hart would open the scoring just 39 seconds into the game. Hart’s sixth of the season was assisted by Matt DeRosa and Garrett Smith. Rochester would control most of the play for the first period. North Iowa would tie the game at one at 11:01 of the first as Jackson Vercellono beat Grizzlies goalie Shane Soderwall. Bulls forward Cam Fagerlee was given a five-minute major for boarding at 16:04 of the first, giving Rochester an extended power play chance. Noel Parker converted on the power play for the Grizzlies, scoring his first since joining the team just a couple weeks ago. Hart and DeRosa assisted on Parker’s first in just his third game with the team. The Grizzlies would go on to put up 13 shots on goal compared to just six for the Bulls in the first period.
The second period is where it would start to collapse for Rochester. Nico Aguilera tied the game for North Iowa at 4:27 of the second period. Just 13 seconds later, Austin McNeil gave the Bulls the lead for good, putting them up 3-2. Mason Enright and Nick Bowlin scored nine second apart at the 8:52 and 9:01 marks of the second, respectively, to put the Bulls up 5-2. The Grizzlies only tallied four shots on net in the second period compared to 14 for North Iowa.
North Iowa would keep up the pace in the third period. Fagerlee scored his 12th goal of the season at 9:34 of the third. Lucas Wahlin and McNeil would tally two more goals for the Bulls to make the final 8-2. North Iowa goalie Evan Babekuhl stopped the nine shots he saw in the last two periods, including just five in the third.
Rochester surrendered 29 shots while firing just 22 on Babekuhl. It was a tough night for rookie goalie Shane Soderwall, as he gave up eight goals and suffered his first loss of the season. Soderwall still has a respectable record of 5-1 in his first season in the NA3HL.
With the loss, the Grizzlies (11-4-0-0, 22 points) remain in second place in the Central Division. They still trail the idle St. Louis Jr. Blues for first place by three points and have played three less games than their new division rival.
The Grizzlies are back home Saturday evening for their second annual Military Appreciation Night sponsored by KAAL ABC 6. All active and veterans of the military get free admission with a valid ID. Family members of military personnel are just $5 for admission. There will be a live auction immediately following the game for the custom sweaters the Grizzlies will be auctioning off. Doors open at 6pm for a 7pm puck drop from the Rochester Recreation Center.