ROCHESTER, MN – It’s starting to become a tradition at the Rochester Recreation Center. The Rochester Grizzlies, for the fifth straight year, have won their home opener. Friday night’s game was a dominant victory over Central Division rival Wausau Cyclones, 6-1. The Grizzlies have now scored 20 goals in their first three games.
Rochester and Wausau have not seen each other since the first round of the Central Division playoffs, which saw Rochester win the best-of-three series in two games. The first period started off in a dominant fashion for the home team. Just 1:35 in, newcomer Connor Stoffel finished off a Max Clark feed and beat Cyclones goalie Mitch Miscevich to the glove side to open the scoring. About a minute and a half later, Spencer Klotz continued his hot start to the season, tallying his second goal and sixth total point on the year.
The second started off much like the first, with Rochester getting a quick start. Zach Laurila, brother of former Grizzly Jake Laurila, finished off a pretty passing play from Luke Sawicky and fired the puck home into a yawning cage to make it 3-0 Rochester. That goal marked Laurila’s first in the NA3HL. Shortly after that, Sawicky finished off a nifty feed from Austin Meers and beat Miscevich five-hole, making it 4-0. Wausau would score its only goal just over two minutes after Sawicky scored, as Brennan Valencia beat Lucas Henderson high to the glove side making it 4-1.
That’s as close as the visitors would get. Riley Dueber poked home a loose puck with one second left in the second period to make it 5-1 Rochester. That marked Dueber’s first NA3HL goal. Tyler Ownby added a third-period tally for the Grizzlies to finish it off.
Henderson made 17 saves on 18 shots, as he has only given up one goal in his two starts this season. His counterpart Miscevich stopped 27 of 33 Grizzlies shots.
Rochester and Wausau wrap up the weekend series Saturday at 7:05 PM from the Rochester Recreation Center. This marks the second of a four-game homestand for the Grizzlies, as they’re also home next weekend for two games against the Oregon Tradesmen.