ROCHESTER, Minn. – The Rochester Grizzlies are officially back in the playoffs. Rochester came out strong and never looked back Friday evening as it went on to defeat the Milwaukee Power 9-0 in front of the home crowd. The Grizzlies are the first team in the North American 3 Hockey League to clinch a spot in the Fraser Cup Playoffs.
The Grizzlies came into Friday wanting to rebound after a tough loss Saturday against the North Iowa Bulls. They got off to a hot start as newcomer and Rochester, MN, native Dylan Schneider scored his first goal in his first game with the team. Schneider received a cross ice feed from Lucas Newman and fired home a power play goal just 2:48 into the first period. Rochester would control play for much of the game and would be rewarded again late in the period. Garrett Smith finished off a Hunter Wilmes feed and jammed the puck five hole on Power goalie Ty Barnhill, making it 2-0 at 15:47 of the first. Luke McKinch picked up the secondary assist.
It was more of the same for Rochester in the second period. Cody Reagle scored a highlight-reel goal just 1:17 into the second, extending the lead to 3-0. Reagle was able to corral the puck before putting it between his legs to get around the defenseman before beating Barnhill far side. Devin Hays got in the action with his 11th of the season after a net mouth scramble. Noel Parker jumped on a loose puck in the slot and fired it on net. It hit Hays on the way in and it would be 4-0 Rochester at 5:08. Schneider added his first assist with the Grizzlies on that goal. Matt DeRosa made it 5-0 Grizzlies at 14:46 of the second period, scoring his 13th of the season. Ethan Noonan and Hays assisted on the goal.
Rochester went on to add four more goals in the third period. Nic Leisen tipped home a Parker point shot for a power play goal just 50 seconds into the third. Schneider continued his strong night by adding another assist. Lucas Newman, Jesper Hofling and DeRosa also added third period goals for the Grizzlies. Hofling and DeRosa’s goals came within 50 seconds of each other late in the third period.
Sean Guerin earned a 16-save shutout in net for Rochester. This marked his first shutout of the season. Rochester previously shutout Milwaukee 8-0 on home ice in the last meeting between the two back on Nov. 2. Eight Grizzlies finished with multi-point efforts in the game with Schneider leading the way with one goal and three assists. Hofling added a goal and two assists for Rochester.
By clinching a playoff spot, the Grizzlies can now finish no worse than fourth in the Central Division. The top four teams in each division at the end of the regular season earn a spot in the Fraser Cup Playoffs. The Grizzlies made the playoffs last season when in the West Division as the three seed before losing in the first round to North Iowa.
Rochester improves to 24-6-1 on the season, good for 49 points and two points clear of St. Louis for first in the Central Division. St. Louis was idle Friday evening before starting a two-game road weekend against Coulee Region Saturday night. The Grizzlies finish the weekend Saturday against Milwaukee, the final time the two teams meet from the Rochester Recreation Center. Saturday’s game is a 7 PM puck drop and is a Saturday Night Showdown sponsored by Sterling State Insurance Agency.