EVANSVILLE, Ind. – Two games against the winless Evansville Jr. Thunderbolts was good timing for the Rochester Grizzlies. The Grizzlies swept the weekend road series against Evansville, winning Friday’s game 13-0 and Saturdays’ game 12-0. With the win Friday, the Grizzlies clinched a playoff birth in their inaugural season.
Much like in Friday’s game, the Grizzlies got off to a quick start Saturday. Joey Fodstad started the scoring just 59 seconds into the first. Oskar Stahl would continue his dominant weekend, scoring his fourth goal of the weekend at 10:08 of the first period. Matt DeRosa and Josh Hoffman scored the remaining three goals of the period as Rochester would go into the first intermission up 5-0. Hoffman’s goal came sandwiched between DeRosa’s two.
The Grizzlies got off to another quick start in the second period as Peyton Hart scored just 15 seconds into the second. Just 2:10 later, Porter Haney scored his eighth of the season to extend the lead to 7-0 in favor of the visiting Grizzlies. Fodstad added his second of the game with just less than four minutes to go in the second. Through two periods, the Grizzlies put up 63 shots on net compared to just five for Evansville.
Rochester picked up four more goals in the third period. Seth Bacon, Kory Potach, Fodstad and Hunter Hall chipped in goals for the Grizzlies. Liam Kelly made eight saves in the game for the second shutout in a row for Rochester. Nick Bucklin earned the shutout in Friday’s win.
Nine Grizzlies had multi-point efforts in the victory, with Fodstad leading the way with three goals and an assist. DeRosa also had four points, with two goals and two assists.
With the win Friday, Rochester clinched a playoff birth in the North American 3 Hockey League playoffs. After Saturday’s game, the Grizzlies stood at 30-14-1, good for 61 points on the season and third place in the West Division. North Iowa defeated New Ulm Saturday to move up to 63 points. Alexandria holds the fourth and final playoff spot in the West Division after sweeping Wausau this weekend and moving up to 55 points, two ahead of New Ulm. As of now, the Grizzlies would be the three seed in the division and play a best-of-three series against the two seed North Iowa Bulls.
The Grizzlies have two games remaining in the regular season, both against the Coulee Region Chill. Friday’s game is on the road against the Chill before Rochester is back home March 9 for the regular season home finale. Puck drop is 7:05 from the Rochester Rec Center. There will be a jersey auction after the game, as well.