Grizzlies draw big challenges at NA3HL Showcase
The North American 3 Hockey League has released the schedule for its NA3HL Showcase, set for Dec. 20-22 in Blaine. The Rochester Grizzlies will face three teams that have a combined one loss in 58 games so far this season.
The Rochester Grizzlies always strive to be their own toughest competition.
That will get put to the test later this month at the North American 3 Hockey League Showcase.
The NA3HL this morning released the schedule for the Showcase and the Grizzlies, as the top team in the Central Division, will have three hefty challenges awaiting them at the National Sports Center in Blaine, from Dec. 20-22.
The Grizzlies (19-1-1) will open the Showcase on Tuesday, Dec. 20, against the Northeast Generals. Then Rochester will meet the Helena (Mont.) Bighorns on Wednesday, Dec. 21, before closing the Showcase against their in-state rival Granite City Lumberjacks on Thursday, Dec. 23.
The Generals, Bighorns and Lumberjacks have a combined 57-1-0 record so far this season.
Northeast, based in Attleboro, Mass., is currently the NA3HL East Division leader with a 16-0-0 record so far this year and has allowed just 22 goals this season.
Helena sits atop the Frontier Division with an unblemished 21-0-0 record. It has outscored its opponents 166-35 so far.
Granite City is a former division rival of the Grizzlies, dating back to the Grizzlies' first season in the NA3HL, when they played in the West Division. The Sauk Rapids-based Lumberjacks are now in first place in the West, with a 20-1-0 record this year. They are coached by Byron native DJ Vold.
Rochester is 5-1-0 all-time at the NA3HL Showcase. Last year's event was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Wiese notches first shutout of season
The Grizzlies (20-1-1) opened a three-game, four-day road trip on Wednesday night with a 3-0 victory at Milwaukee.
Veteran goaltender Zach Wiese continued his strong play, stopping all 27 shots he faced to earn his first shutout of the season and improve to 11-1-1 overall. Wiese has now allowed two or fewer goals in nine of his 13 starts this year.
Hastings native Kyle Bauer scored twice for the Grizzlies -- his 14th and 15th goals of the season -- and Austin Meers scored his seventh of the year.
Milwaukee goalie Spencer Northway again made things difficult on the Grizzlies' offense, making 37 saves as Rochester outshot Milwaukee 40-27. The Power dropped to 6-15-1 with the loss.
Cole Gibson also had a two-point game for Rochester, assisting on the team's first two goals. Justin Wright, Jameson Folden, Adam Johnson and Mason Thingvold had one assist apiece in the victory.
Johnson, the team's fifth-leading scorer, was playing in his first game in nearly a month, coming back after recovering from a lower-body injury. He assisted on Bauer's goal with 5:10 to go in the third period that made the score 3-0.
After a scoreless opening period, Bauer opened the scoring 4:42 into the second, a goal that held up as the game winner. Meers scored the backbreaker late in the second period, beating Northway with just 13 seconds to go before intermission.
The Grizzlies continue their road trip Friday and Saturday at the St. Louis Jr. Blues. Friday's game is set to begin at 8:30 p.m., while Saturday's opening faceoff is scheduled for 2:30 p.m.
Rochester has just one home game remaining this calendar year -- a Dec. 10 game against Mason City at 7:05 p.m. at the Rochester Recreation Center.