Win Streak Ends at Seven as Grizzlies Fall to North Iowa

MASON CITY, IA. – All good thing must come to an end. The Rochester Grizzlies saw their seven-game winning streak snapped at the hands of their former division foe, North Iowa Bulls, Saturday night after losing 4-0 on the road. The win streak started back on Dec. 13 at home against North Iowa, coincidentally.

In the Grizzlies’ first game at the new Mason City Arena, the home team would open the scoring. Nico Aguilera beat Mathias Backstrom at 3:24 of the first period for his eighth of the season. North Iowa would later convert on the power play as Nic Leisen was in the box for Rochester. Sean Sullivan made it 2-0 at 18:10 of the first on the power play, as special teams would become a theme throughout the game. The Grizzlies only put up five shots in the first frame.

North Iowa would score an early power play goal to start the second period. Jordan Roo got the puck past Backstrom just 3:04 into the second as Clayton Shultz was in the box serving a slashing minor penalty. Both teams would trade minor penalties throughout the second but Rochester was unable to convert on any of its man-advantage chances. The Grizzlies did apply more pressure and put up 16 shots on Bulls goalie Evan Babekuhl but he stopped them all.

The Grizzlies would be given an extended power play chance in the third period, however. Bulls forward Jackson Vercellono was given a five-minute major and game misconduct for spearing at the 8:29 mark of the third. Nic Leisen was already in the box for Rochester serving a slashing minor, so the Grizzlies didn’t start with a power play right away. Rochester couldn’t find the back of the net and would still find itself trailing 3-0 for most of the third period. North Iowa added an empty net goal with 1:22 left to make it 4-0.

The loss puts Rochester at 1-2 in the season series against North Iowa, with both losses coming on the road. Backstrom surrendered three goals on 22 shots while the Grizzlies fired 33 on Babekuhl. The two teams will meet again at the Rochester Recreation Center on Feb. 1 for the Grizzlies’ Pink in the Rink Night.

Rochester still sits in first place in the Central Division at 23-6-1 for 47 points. St. Louis defeated Wausau Saturday night to put itself in a tie at 47 points with Rochester. However, the Grizzlies still are in first place due to a better win percentage.

The Grizzlies are home next weekend for two games against the Milwaukee Power. Both Friday and Saturday’s games are 7 PM puck drops from the Rochester Recreation Center.