ROCHESTER, Minn. – Saturday night became the “Hunter Wilmes Show” from the Rochester Recreation Center. The second-year forward scored three goals on the evening, leading the Rochester Grizzlies past the St. Louis Jr Blues 5-2 to wrap up the weekend. Peyton Hart and Joey Fodstad also tallied goals for Rochester.
After a tough shootout loss Friday, the Grizzlies set the tempo early in Saturday’s game, out-shooting the Jr Blues 9-2 within the first half of the first period. Hart would open the scoring for Rochester on the power play with his 17th of the season. The puck came to Hart on the far side of the net and he beat Jr Blues goalie Jeb Lindy clean to give Rochester the 1-0 lead. Matt DeRosa and Dylan Schneider assisted on Hart’s goal. Wilmes got his first of the evening in dramatic fashion as the puck was flipped high in the air by Hart, all the way into the St. Louis zone. Wilmes chased after it and in one motion, shot the puck past Lindy as soon as it stopped bouncing.
St. Louis would get its second fluke goal in as many nights as a bouncing puck hit off Shane Soderwall and trickled into his net, making it a 2-1 game early in the second period. It would not stay 2-1 for long as less than three minutes later Wilmes would beat Lindy blocker side for his second of the night at 6:58 of the second period. Teppei Ueno and Ethan Noonan assisted on the goal.
Fodstad was the recipient of a beautiful pass by Garrett Smith from behind the net and he roofed the puck on Lindy, making it a 4-1 lead for the home team at 2:37 of the third period. Schneider added another assist on the night on Fodstad’s goal. The score would stay that way for most of the third period before Mike Ivory made it interesting at the 16:54 mark, beating Soderwall high to the glove side. The 4-2 score would not last long as Wilmes would finish the night off with an empty net goal at 18:24 of the third period, capping off a great evening for the Grizzlies. Soderwall stopped 31 of 33 shots to earn his 10th win of the season.
With the win, the Grizzlies continue to hold onto first place in the Central Division, sitting at 19-3-0-1 (39 points). They are still three points ahead of the Peoria Mustangs, who are in town next weekend for two games against the Grizzlies. Rochester is home Friday and Saturday evening against Peoria at 7:05 both games. For tickets, head to the tickets tab on the Grizzlies website.