ROCHESTER, Minn. – With the regular season in the home stretch, the Rochester Grizzlies know every point matters. Coming into Saturday night, the Grizzlies sat five points ahead of the Peoria Mustangs for first place in the NA3HL Central Division and kept it that way after a big 6-1 on home ice over the Oregon Tradesmen. Peoria won its game over Milwaukee, keeping the deficit at five points.
Much like Friday night, the Grizzlies opened the scoring. Blake Arneson continued his strong play since joining the Grizzlies as he opened the scoring at 6:43 of the first period. The goal marked Arneson’s fourth in five games with Rochester. Garrett Smith and Mason Thingvold provided the assists on the goal. Less than three minutes later, Hunter Wilmes doubled the lead for the Grizzlies with his second goal of the weekend and 13th of the year. Smith continued his strong play of late, adding another assist while Ethan Noonan picked up the secondary helper. Cole Gibson picked up his second in as many games at 14:07 of the first period, extending the lead to 3-0 for Rochester. The Grizzlies held Oregon to just two shots in the first period while putting up 21.
Wilmes would get his second of the evening at 6:47 of the second period, giving the home team a 4-0 advantage. Smith and Thingvold teamed up to provide the assists for Wilmes’ 14th of the year. The Grizzlies would not stop the pressure, as third-year forward Joey Fodstad picked up his 13th of the year, knocking home a loose puck in a net mouth scramble. Matt DeRosa and Peyton Hart then teamed up for the Grizzlies’ eighth shorthanded goal of the season, scored by DeRosa, coming at the 14:19 mark of the second period. DeRosa’s shorthanded goal is his third of the season, tying him for most on the team with Hart. Rochester is now tied for second place for shorthanded goals on the season with the El Paso Rhinos.
Parker Severson would end Shane Soderwall’s terrific night as he finished off a pass from Abe Laggis on the power play, putting the Tradesmen on the board at 12:10 of the third. That marked the first power play goal Oregon has scored all season against Rochester.
The Grizzlies now sit at 27-5-0-1 (55 points). Soderwall picked up his 15th win on the season, as he sits in second place for most wins in the entire league.
Rochester has three games next weekend, all on the road. Thursday the Grizzlies travel to face the Wausau RiverWolves. Friday and Saturday they’re on the road taking on the Oregon Tradesmen. They’re back home two weekends from now for Friday and Saturday games against the Milwaukee Power.