BLAINE, Minn. – The Rochester Grizzlies knew they’d be facing some tough opponents at the North American 3 Hockey League Showcase Tournament this week. After a big win Sunday afternoon over Elmira, the Grizzlies drew the top team in the entire league in the Bozeman Icedogs. Bozeman came in to Monday’s game with the most points and best win percentage in the league. None of that mattered. After falling behind 1-0 after one, the Grizzlies scored four in the second period and never looked back, beating Bozeman 6-2.
Head Coach Chris Ratzloff elected to go with Shane Soderwall in net for Monday afternoon’s contest. The rookie goalie was not tested much in the first part of the first period. Rochester controlled play, much like most of the game against Elmira. Bozeman would catch a break as Brock Finn beat Soderwall five hole with a backhand to make it 1-0 at 17:45 of the first. The goal would give the Icedogs some brief life, but Rochester took control in the second.
Rochester, MN native Paul Hofbauer scored his third goal of the season just 1:58 into the second to tie the game. Noel Parker put the puck not net with a point shot and it crept through Bozeman goalie Conan Hayton, who was spectacular in the first period. Hofbauer knocked the rebound home. The flood gates opened up after that.
Lucas Newman scored his 11th goal of the season after weaving through the defense and beating Hayton high to the glove side. Jesper Hofling and Luke McKinch assisted on the goal. Just 59 seconds later Devin Hays made it 3-1 after getting to his own rebound and knocking it past Hayton. The Grizzlies would be awarded a five-on-three power play shortly after the Hays goal. After several chances it would be Michael Heitkamp who would finally beat Hayton, extending the lead to 4-1. Heitkamp received a pass from Newman and walked in alone in the slot and beat Hayton up high at 6:37 of the second.
Rochester kept its foot on the gas pedal in the third period. Joey Fodstad scored his 19th of the season at 5:21 of the third giving Rochester a 5-1 lead. Fodstad banked the puck in off Hayton’s pad from a bad angle, similar to his goal Sunday against Elmira. Matt DeRosa chipped in his third goal in two games by beating Hayton with a backhand up high, making it 6-1 Rochester. DeRosa’s 12th goal of the season came at 14:28 of the third. Andrew Bertolini would add another goal for Bozeman late in the third to make it 6-2.
Soderwall stopped 21 of 23 shots on goal and improved to 7-1 on the season. It was his first win since Nov. 23 against Wausau.
The Grizzlies are now 19-5-1-0 with 39 points and still on top of the Central Division. Much like last season, the Grizzlies also took the first two games of the Showcase Tournament but dropped the final game last year. They’ll be hoping to change that trend when they face the defending Fraser Cup Champion Texas Brahmas Tuesday morning at 9:30. The game is at Schwan Super Rink 1 and can also be found on Hockey TV.