ROCHESTER, Minn. – If Friday night meant anything, fans can expect some back-and-forth contests between the Rochester Grizzlies and Coulee Region Chill this season. After trading goals the whole game, the Chill finally scored the last one and ended Rochester’s win streak at five, winning 3-2 at the Rochester Rec Center.
This marked the first of eight meetings between the two new Central Division rivals. Both teams faced each other four times last season when the Grizzlies were a part of the West Division.
The Chill came out strong in this game, putting up 17 shots in the first compared to just 11 for the Grizzlies. Rochester starter Mathias Backstrom had to make some excellent saves just to keep the Grizzlies in the game in the first. Parker Severson would finally fire one past Backstrom on the power play, however. Severson fired a wrist shot from the top of the slot that went off both posts and in. The goal came at 17:42 of the first and gave Coulee Region a 1-0 heading into the first intermission.
Rochester (5-2-0-0, 10 points) came out stronger in the second period, but could not solve Chill goalie Devin Naidow. Naidow started all four games against the Grizzlies last season. Joey Fodstad finally got Rochester on the board late in the second. Garrett Smith sprung Fodstad on a partial breakaway and the Rogers, MN native roofed a shot on Naidow to tie the game at one. The goal marked Fodstad’s team-leading eighth of the season.
There was much more drama in the third period as Gadel Khismatullin somehow found some room from a bad angle, banking the puck off Backstrom and in, giving the Chill a 2-1 lead. Khismatullin’s goal came just 53 seconds in the third, taking away some momentum Rochester gained at the end of the second.
The lead would be short lived, though. Bryar Flanders fired a shot from the point that went wide, but the bounce off the back boards went right to Porter Haney as he fired home the puck, tying the game at two just 1:47 after Khismatullin’s goal. But the tie wouldn’t last too long. Marco Escobar pounced on a loose puck on the power play and snapped it past Backstrom and Coulee Region would regain its one goal lead. This time, it would stick.
Rochester would not be able to score on a late abbreviated power play or with the extra-attacker. The Grizzlies would actually put up 43 shots in the game, 16 in each of the second and third periods. Devin Naidow stopped 41 of those shots to pick up his first win of the season, while Backstrom stopped 28 of 31 and was saddled with the loss.
The two teams are back at it Saturday from the Rochester Rec Center at 7pm. Saturday is Rochester Youth Hockey Association Girl’s Night, as any girl who wears her hockey jersey to the game gets free admission. It’s also the first post game skate of the season with the Grizzlies as fans can go on the ice afterwards and skate with the Grizzlies players.