ROCHESTER, Minn. – Thanks to a three-goal third period, the Rochester Grizzlies are 3-0-0 to start a season for the first time in franchise history. After trailing 2-1 for much of the third period, the Grizzlies stormed back for three unanswered goals en route to a 4-2 win in their home opener from the Rochester Recreation Center.
Rochester started off the season with two wins over their Central Division rivals on the road. Friday night didn’t start off the way the Grizzlies would’ve liked, however. Despite Rochester getting the better chances in the first period, St. Louis broke the ice first. Mike Ivory fired a shot on net while shorthanded that Shane Soderwall saved initially, however it went off his own defenseman and trickled into the net. The bad bounce gave the Jr. Blues their first lead of the season over the Grizzlies.
The special teams would continue to be the story throughout most of the game, including the second period. On a late Grizzlies penalty kill, defenseman Tyler Huffer scored his first career North American 3 Hockey League goal after beating St. Louis netminder Owen Carlson to the far side. Huffer gave Rochester some life with his goal coming with 27 seconds left in the second period, an unassisted tally.
The tie would not last long as St. Louis came back with a power play goal to start the third period. Joey Solimando took advantage of Soderwall being out of position and fired the puck into an empty net just 48 seconds into the third, making it 2-1 for the visiting team. But Rochester was not done.
On their own power play, the Grizzlies found a way to tie it again. Huffer was able to corral a bouncing puck in his feet and settled it down before firing a wrist shot over the glove of Carlson to tie the game at two. Justin Wright scored just 18 seconds later with his first career NA3HL goal, making it 3-2 Grizzlies. Garrett Smith and Micah Gernander picked up the assists, with Gernander’s being his first career NA3HL point. Peyton Hart added an empty net goal with 1.7 seconds to go to clinch it for Rochester.
Soderwall stopped 23 of 25 shots he saw for his second win of the season. His counterpart Carlson stopped 26 of 29. The two teams are back at it Saturday evening from the Rochester Rec Center with a 7:05 start time.