ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

5 southern Minnesota players who stood out at Rochester Grizzlies camp

More than 70 players participated in the Rochester Grizzlies' main tryout camp over the weekend at the Rochester Recreation Center. As the Grizzlies prepare to defend their NA3HL national championship, a handful of local players made strong cases to be part -- or big parts -- of the team in the coming season.

031021.N.RPB.MAYO_HOCKEY.346.jpg
Former Rochester Mayo goalie Tate Cothern is one of a handful of southern Minnesota players who fared well at the Rochester Grizzlies main camp over the weekend at the Recreation Center. Cothern is expected to be one of three goalies on the Grizzlies' roster to start the 2022-23 season.
Traci Westcott / Post Bulletin file photo
We are part of The Trust Project.

ROCHESTER — Chris Ratzloff has pulled a famous line from Herb Brooks more than once in recent weeks.

As the Rochester Grizzlies attempt to build a roster to repeat as North American 3 Hockey League champions — more than half of the roster will turn over from last season to this season — Ratzloff, the team’s head coach, has stressed that he isn’t looking to fill the lineup with the best players, but rather with the right players.

After a three-day, eight-game tryout camp over the weekend, Ratzloff and assistant coaches Tyler Veen and Tait Carlson feel like they’ve found the majority of the right players for this year’s team. The Grizzlies report for the season on Sunday and practice begins on Monday, Aug. 29. The Grizzlies open the season Sept. 9 at St. Louis.

Their 70-plus player tryout camp featured more than 20 players who grew up and played (or are still playing) high school hockey in southern Minnesota. Here are five local players who stood out at camp, and who expect to help the Grizzlies make another deep playoff push in 2022-23:

Tate Cothern

The former Rochester Mayo standout goalie showed zero signs of rust or nerves over the weekend. The Grizzlies signed him to a tender thinking he’d be the next in an ever-lengthening list of award-winning netminders. Cothern could be just that. In Sunday’s camp All-Star Game, he looked confident and was flawless in 30 minutes of play, stopping a breakaway cleanly and making at least three saves on close-range shots from between the dots where shooters had clean looks. Cothern was 12-5-1 with a 2.33 goals-against average and .918 save percentage at Mayo last year, numbers that could get even better playing behind a Grizzlies’ defense that prides itself on limiting opponents’ shots and scoring chances. Cothern will battle veteran Lucas Henderson — who also looked sharp all weekend — and returner Kaleb Bents for time in goal.

ADVERTISEMENT

Spencer Klotz

The second-leading scorer in Minnesota high school hockey last winter, Klotz has shown that talent and ability at multiple camps this summer. He flashed his skills at times at main camps for NAHL teams Anchorage and Austin, then looked like a poised veteran at Grizzlies camp over the weekend. Klotz’s combination of speed, size (6-1, 179) and skill could make him an instant force this fall for a Grizzlies team that loses its top five scorers and six of its top seven from a year ago. Klotz can score. He was second in the state as a high school senior with 57 assists and 91 points. He finished his three-year varsity career at Northfield with 77 goals, 112 assists and 189 points.

Easton Hammill

Dodge.County.Hammill.jpg
Dodge County's Easton Hammill (25) checks La Crescent-Hokah's Elijah Faas (12) during a boys hockey game Friday, Feb. 26, 2021, at Dodge County Ice Arena in Kasson.
Joe Ahlquist / Post Bulletin file photo

Hammill brings a can’t-be-taught combination of size (6-4, 190) and offensive ability to the Grizzlies after a standout high school career at Dodge County, in which he recorded 19 goals and 56 points, and played a pivotal role in helping the Wildcats reach the Class A state tournament in 2021. Hammill averaged nearly a point per game as a high school senior (25 points in 27 games), but the Grizzlies hope to bring out even more of the physical side in the big blue-liner and make him a force in his own zone first.

Connor Stoffel

CONNOR.STOFFEL.MUG.jpg
Connor Stoffel

Stoffel was a key cog on a Hastings High School team that made deep Section 1AA playoff runs in recent seasons, only to fall in OT in two of the past three years. The 5-10, 170-pound forward led a high-powered Raiders offense in goals (30) and points (63) last season, when he recorded three hat tricks and 22 multi-point games. Much like Klotz, Stoffel will be looked at to fill some of the scoring that has departed from last season’s team. He was drafted by the Springfield Jr. Blues of the NAHL in June, and he also played the past two fall seasons for the Chippewa (Wis.) Steel 16U and 18U AAA programs, where he recorded 20 points in 16 games across two seasons, prior to the start of the high school season.

Grady Goodwin

Another outstanding left-shot defenseman, the 5-foot-11, 192-pound Faribault native is another big, strong blue-liner who will add a physical presence to the back-end for the Grizzlies. Goodwin can produce in the offensive zone a bit, too. The now 18-year-old made the jump to the high school varsity as an eighth-grader in 2018-19. He played four seasons of varsity hockey for the Falcons — producing 20 goals and 55 total points — before moving to play for the Omaha Hockey Club 18U AAA team last season. He had eight points in 41 games with Omaha.

Jason Feldman is the sports editor of the Post Bulletin. In addition to managing the four-person sports staff at the PB, Jason covers high school football, golf and high school and junior hockey. Readers can reach Jason at 507-281-7430 or jfeldman@postbulletin.com.
What To Read Next
Ben Oakland scored the game-winning goal for the Rochester Grizzlies on a night when they raised thousands of dollars for cancer research. It was a good feeling for the Grizzlies' veteran and the team.
The Austin Bruins couldn't generate much offense on Paint the Rink Pink Night, but they generated thousands of dollars to donate to the Hormel Institute to be used for cancer research.
The Rochester Grizzlies will hold their annual Pink Night, to raise funds for cancer research at Mayo Clinic, on Saturday.
The league would launch in summer 2024 and is polling interest in possible host cities.