ROCHESTER, Minn. – For the first time in franchise history, the Rochester Grizzlies will be playing playoff hockey in round two. After trailing 2-0 at one point in Saturday’s game, the Grizzlies stormed back for five unanswered goals en route to a 5-2 win in game two of the best-of-three series to complete the sweep of the Oregon Tradesmen. Rochester will now face the Peoria Mustangs in the Central Division Finals next week.
The Tradesmen started tonight’s game much like last night, scoring the first goal. This time, former Grizzlies forward Devin Hays cashed in on a loose puck in front, knocking it past Shane Soderwall to open the scoring at 6:56 of the first. However, unlike last night’s game, the Tradesmen did not give up the next goal. Just 1:26 later, Jacob Best crashed the crease and found himself a rebound and scored on Soderwall to make it 2-0 for visiting Oregon. Hunter Wilmes would respond at 12:09 of the first as his shot from a bad angle crept through Cole Garver, giving the Grizzlies some life.
Trailing to start the second, the Grizzlies turned to their captain and three-year veteran forward Peyton Hart to lead the way. Hart found himself a loose puck in front of Garver and knocked it home to capitalize on the power play, tying the game at two. Yotaro Nakadate picked up the lone assist on the goal by Hart. That goal now leaves Hart alone in first place for most post-season points in franchise history. The rough stuff kept up in the second period, as well, with Logan Kroyman and Carter Watters getting the gate for fighting.
With the game tied at two in the third, the Grizzlies found their life. Joey Fodstad kept with the puck and found Justin Wright in front of the net as he banged it home for his first career playoff goal, giving Rochester a 3-2 lead. It would stay that way for most of the period before Cole Gibson added his third of the weekend, finishing off a great feed from Hart and barely got the puck over the line, making it 4-2 Rochester. Garver nearly made the save, but the referee signaled a goal. Teppei Ueno added an empty net goal to seal the game for Rochester.
The Grizzlies are the higher seed over the Peoria Mustangs, which gives them home-ice advantage in the Central Division Finals. The winner will advance to the Fraser Cup Finals. For ticket and schedule information, be sure to check the Grizzlies social media pages throughout the week.