ROCHESTER, Minn. – Backed by a four-goal third period, and with seven different goal scorers helping out, the Rochester Grizzlies were able to beat a feisty Wausau RiverWolves club 7-1 on home ice at the Rochester Recreation Center. Friday night marked the first time the two teams have met in Rochester since the 2019-20 season. They were supposed to play in early December and earlier in the month of January, but had to push the games back.
Starting it off for the Grizzlies, in a night of a couple firsts, Rochester native Joey Malugani opened the scoring for the Grizzlies at 4:36 of the first period. Malugani tipped home a cross-ice feed from Peyton Hart and tallied his first career North American 3 Hockey League goal in just his second game with the Grizzlies. Malugani started the season with the Bismarck Bobcats of the North American Hockey League. Wausau would come back and tie it as Ethan Cumming would beat Zach Wiese high for his first of the evening, tying it at the 12:18 mark of the first. Just about three and a half minutes later, Justin Wright would knock home a loose puck to give the Grizzlies a 2-1 lead. Mason Thingvold and Teppei Ueno assisted on Wright’s ninth of the season.
In the second period, the Grizzlies would get their first power play of the evening and they would convert. Garrett Smith found a rebound in front and was able to beat Wausau goalie Joseph La Forge to make it 3-1. Thingvold added his second assist while Tommy Gordon tallied the secondary assist on Smith’s sixth of the year. The two-goal lead would not last as Cumming scored his second of the game at 10:47 of the second. That’s as close as the RiverWolves would get, though.
The third period is where the Grizzlies would start to pull away. Matt DeRosa scored his 12th of the season at 6:16 of the third, beating La Forge to the glove side. Smith picked up his second point of the evening with the lone assist on the goal. Rochester would then rattle off three more unanswered goals as Joey Fodstad, Ueno and Max Clark would all find the back of the net for Rochester. Clark’s goal came on the power play and marked his first career NA3HL goal.
Fourteen of the 19 skaters dressed for Rochester tallied at least one point, led by Smith who had a goal and two assists. Thingvold also had three points, all assists. Wiese picked up the win, stopping 12 of 14 shots on net.
Rochester (21-4-0-1, 43 points) moves five points up for first place in the Central Division over the idle Peoria Mustangs. The Grizzlies and RiverWolves are back at it Saturday evening from the Rochester Rec Center with a 7:05 puck drop.