ROCHESTER, Minn. – With first place in the Central Division on the line Saturday night, the Rochester Grizzlies did not want to lose their top spot. After a tough Friday night loss to the visiting Peoria Mustangs, the Grizzlies were looking for revenge against the Mustangs and got just that. Peyton Hart picked up a goal and assist and Shane Soderwall stopped all 20 shots he saw as Rochester picked up a big two points with a 2-0 win.
Heading into Saturday’s game, the Grizzlies (20-4-0-1, 41 points) were one point up on Peoria as the teams were sitting at 39 and 38 respectively. Another win in regulation would’ve allowed Peoria to leap from the Grizzlies and nab first place in the Central Division.
The start to Saturday’s game was much like Friday, with the Grizzlies firing shot after shot on Mustangs goalie Cole Walter. Walter, like Friday, stopped most of them. Rochester broke the ice just seven seconds after Hart exited the box for serving a charging minor. Hart received a lengthy pass from Yotaro Nakadate and patiently waited for it to avoid going offside, before beating Walter five-hole with a breakaway goal. Hart’s team-leading 18th goal was also assisted by Mason Thingvold.
Neither team would find the back of the net in the second period, despite chances for both. Soderwall and Walter stopped all the shots they saw. There certainly wasn’t a lack of fireworks in the second period despite no goals. Ethan Noonan and the much larger Reid Lune got into a spirited scrap, which resulted in the ejection of both players. Rochester also had an extended five-on-three, but was unable to find the back of the net. The Grizzlies held the Mustangs to just two shots in the second period.
The third period would provide much of the same for both clubs. Rochester would continue its solid defensive effort, ultimately holding Peoria to seven shots on goal. Joey Fodstad would score an empty netter from just inside his own zone, capping this one off for the Grizzlies.
The penalty kill was the story for the Grizzlies this weekend, killing off seven out of seven chances. Coming into Saturdays’ game, Rochester and Peoria were first and second in penalty kill in the North American 3 Hockey League, respectively.
Rochester is back home next weekend, Friday and Saturday, for two games against the Wausau RiverWolves. Puck drop is set for 7:05 both nights. Be sure to get your tickets online on the single game tickets tab on the Grizzlies’ website.