ROCHESTER, Minn. – In what was the longest home stretch of games, the Grizzlies already had four wins in a row. After Friday night, it became five home wins in a row and five wins in a row. The Grizzlies (5-1-0-0) beat the Willmar War Hawks for the second straight game, taking this one 5-0.
Rochester and Willmar met last weekend in Rochester, with the Grizzlies taking that one 6-2. In that game, the Grizzlies got off to a bit of a slow start, giving up a goal 11 seconds into the game. Friday night, it was another slow start for Rochester. This time, it didn’t result in giving up goals. It was penalties taking momentum away from the Grizzlies.
“I don’t like how we’re not starting the game when it starts. We have to figure that out. Eventually we get to our identity and it’s pretty good, but we can’t spot teams 20 minutes of us playing the wrong way,” Head Coach Casey Mignone said.
The Grizzlies took four penalties in the first period but managed to kill them all off. The game would be scoreless after one.
The second period would see an early power play for the Grizzlies and it would take almost all the time on the power play before Vladislav Sorokin fired one past Willmar goalie Moritz Ertl, giving the Grizzlies a 1-0 lead. Rochester would tally 24 shots in the second period, but only one would get past Ertl.
It would be a similar story in the third period for Rochester. Last week, the Grizzlies got three goals in the third period against the War Hawks. Tonight, it was four unanswered goals in the third.
Sorokin would get another early goal at the 1:14 mark of the third to make it 2-0. Lucas Newman would score his fourth of the year at the 10:40 mark before Sorokin would complete the hat trick just a few minutes later. Seth Bacon would score an unassisted goal at the 15:04 mark to make it 5-0.
When asked if his teammates were trying to help him complete the hat trick, Sorokin chuckled and replied, “I don’t think so, no.”
Nick Bucklin would get the shutout in his second career start with the Grizzlies, making 24 saves.
“I was kind of fighting [the puck] a little bit, I have a saying ‘make the first three saves of the game and then you’re in one.’ I made the first three and I started seeing the puck clearly,” Bucklin said.
Rochester would finish the game with 52 shots and go 7-for-7 on the penalty kill.
The Grizzlies are on the road Saturday against the very same Willmar War Hawks at 7:30. The next home game is Sat. October 13 against the Breezy Point North Stars.