ROCHESTER, MN – The Rochester Grizzlies finally have an overtime win. Luke Jech knocked home a loose puck after a net-mouth scramble, capping off a two-goal game as the Grizzlies hung on to beat the Oregon Tradesmen 5-4. This marked the first overtime win for Rochester in its sixth try. The Grizzlies move to 27-8-4 (58 points) and keep a three-point lead over the Tradesmen for first in the Central Division.
Friday was a quick start on home ice for the Grizzlies. Ruslan Ospanov found position in front of the net and tipped home a Leo Milan point shot to make it 1-0 Rochester just 1:04 into the game. At the six-minute mark, Luke Morrisette found room short side on Tradesmen goalie Walker Berner and, from a near-impossible angle, roofed it to give Rochester a 2-0 lead. Gavin Mears and Ryan Berglund assisted on the goal. A late power play for Rochester allowed Spencer Klotz to convert with the man-advantage to make it 3-0 at 18:57. Klotz pounced on a loose puck after a bit of a broken play and beat Berner. Erik Hernborn and Adler Johnston, two players who recently spent time with the Austin Bruins of the NAHL, picked up the assists.
One would think after leading 3-0 after one and out-shooting the Tradesmen 12-2, the Grizzlies would be set to dominate the game. Oregon struck at 4:29 of the second as recently acquired Hayden Shoemake beat a defender back door to make it a 3-1 game. Jech would shift the momentum back in Rochester’s favor by converting on a shorthanded breakaway at 11:18 of the period. Jech started the play in the neutral zone, stripping the opponent of the puck and beating new goalie Tyler Fromolz glove side to make it 4-1. On the same power play, Shoemake found himself at the back door again and scored a similar goal to his first to make it 4-2.
Rochester would be clinging to a 4-2 lead for much of the third period. A late power play for Oregon saw Eric Fenton pull his goalie Fromolz to make it a six-on-four. Will Falconer beat Tate Cothern from the point through traffic to make it a one-goal game at 16:30 of the third. On the next shift, just 11 seconds later, Shoemake completed his hat trick to tie the game at four.
It took nearly all of overtime before Jech slid the puck past Fromolz for the game-winner at 4:10. Fromolz could not cover the puck in time as multiple players were in or around the crease. Jech found the puck and played the hero with the goal. Ospanov and Per Waage assisted on the winner.
Cothern picked up the win in net for the Grizzlies, stopping 11 of 15 shots. The Grizzlies would out-shoot the Tradesmen 30-15. The two teams battle it out again Saturday evening on Pink in the Rink Night. Proceeds from the game will be donated to Mayo Clinic for cancer research. There will be items up for silent auction throughout the evening as well as the game-worn Grizzlies sweaters being auctioned off after the game. Puck drop is 7:05 PM.