AFFTON, MO. – It was a back-and-forth contest one would expect out two teams tied in points atop the Central Division. The Rochester Grizzlies and St. Louis Jr. Blues went goal-for-goal throughout the game until Nic Leisen broke a late tie as the Grizzlies ultimately came away with a 4-2 victory Saturday evening.
In the first of four games between the two teams, it was the Grizzlies who opened the scoring. Joey Fodstad scored his 16th goal of the season, an unassisted marker, at 3:28 of the first period. The Grizzlies kept the lead for most of the first period, with goalie Mathias Backstrom making some key saves to keep it 1-0. The Jr. Blues would tie the game up at 11:22 of the first as Mike Deeba scored a power play goal while Clayton Shultz was in the box. The tie game wouldn’t last long as Zak Justice scored his sixth of the season to make it 2-1 Grizzlies at 13:07 of the first. Garrett Smith and Matt DeRosa picked up the assists.
The Jr. Blues picked up the pace in the second period, causing Backstrom to make some big stops to keep the Grizzlies in the game. One did get past him, however, as Joey Solimando tied the game at two at the 10:43 mark of the second period. Backstrom again made big stops after the goal to keep the game tied at two. Rochester would be outshot 15-9 in the second frame.
The score remained 2-2 for much of the third period. Both Backstorm and Jr. Blues goalie Will Oliver kept their teams in the game with huge stops in the period. It would be Kasson, MN native Leisen to play hero for the Grizzlies in this one. Noel Parker fired a shot on net from the point and Leisen got just enough to tip the puck past Oliver to make it 3-2 Grizzlies with 1:07 remaining in the third. His fifth of the season was enough and Porter Haney added an empty net goal with 51 seconds left to clinch it for the Grizzlies.
With the win, the Grizzlies increase their lead in the Central Division and are now two points clear of the Jr. Blues. Rochester now stands at 16-4-1-0 good for 33 points. The two teams battle it out again Sunday afternoon with a 1pm puck drop. The game is the final time Rochester will play in St. Louis for the regular season. The two teams meet in Rochester March 6th and 7th.