ROCHESTER, Minn. – It was hard to tell the Rochester Grizzlies haven’t played a hockey game in two weeks during Friday night’s game. Lucas Newman and Matt DeRosa drove the offense with two goals each, as the Grizzlies went on to defeat the Peoria Mustangs 5-3 from the Rochester Recreation Center. Friday’s contest marked the fourth meeting of six between the two clubs and the first game played in Rochester. The Grizzlies have won the previous three meetings, all in Peoria.
Sean Guerin earned the start in net tonight for the Grizzlies and faced Rochester, MN native Cole Walter. Neither goalie would be tested much early on, with shots coming at a premium. Rochester would get a late power play in the first as Mustangs defenseman Atticus Helfer would sit two minutes for tripping. Rochester, MN product Lucas Newman made the Mustangs pay as he beat Walter with a wrist shot from the right circle, making it 1-0 Rochester. Jesper Hofling picked up the assist on Newman’s sixth goal of the season.
It took 19:33 for the Grizzlies to score in the first, but only 48 seconds to find the back of the net in the second period. Noel Parker’s point shot hit Walter’s pad and the rebound went right to Matt DeRosa, who knocked home his fourth goal of the season. Garrett Smith also added an assist on the goal. Just 1:01 later, DeRosa was at it again. Clayton Shultz wired the shot from the point with DeRosa getting a piece to make it 3-0 Rochester. The goal came on the same shift for the same five Grizzlies out for his first goal (DeRosa, Smith, Peyton Hart, Shultz and Parker). Rochester would keep Peoria hemmed in its own zone for much of the first half of the second period. After a strong shift of maintaining possession, Lucas Newman came off the bench and pounced on a loose puck, beating Walter for his second of the game.
Peoria would tally an early goal in the third as Ian McHenry knocked a rebound past Guerin to cut the lead to 4-1. The Mustangs would go on a power play not too long after that and looked to build some momentum after the recent goal. It would be the Grizzlies converting, however. Newman chased after the puck behind the Mustangs net and passed it out in front to a wide open Nic Leisen who beat Walter with a backhand. The shorthanded goal extended the lead to 5-1 Rochester and marked the sixth shorthanded goal of the season for the Grizzlies.
Austin Keil and Jared Wisely scored the final two goals for Peoria, with the latter’s coming with 10 seconds left in the third. Wisely’s goal came on the power play, as the Grizzlies were perfect prior to that. Rochester would go on to finish 1/6 on the power play, same as the Mustangs.
Guerin earned his second win of the season, stopping 18 of the 21 shots he saw. Walter was saddled with the loss and is now 0-2-0-1 against Rochester this season. These two teams will end the season series at the end of the month on the 29th and 30th with those games in Rochester.
The Grizzlies (10-3-0-0, 20 points) are still in second place in the Central Division. They trail the idle St. Louis Jr. Blues who have 25 points but have also played five more games than Rochester. The Grizzlies are back home Saturday evening as the Milwaukee Power come to town for the first time. Rochester is 2-1 against the Power this season. Puck drop is set for 7pm and doors open at 6pm.