Cole Walter won some big games at the Rochester Recreation Center during his high school career.
The Rochester Century grad continues to have success at his hometown arena now in his junior hockey career. This time, though, he's having success against Rochester.
Walter stole the show and the game for his team Friday night, leading the Peoria Mustangs to a 3-2 North American 3 Hockey League Central Division victory against the Rochester Grizzlies. He made 38 saves to help the Mustangs earn the victory and improve to 18-3-2, pulling within one point of the Grizzlies for first place in the division.
The Grizzlies (19-4-1) lost for just the fourth time in 24 games this season; three of those losses have come at the hands of Walter and the Mustangs. Peoria leads the season series 3-2-0, with the series finale set for 7:05 p.m. Saturday at the Rec Center. The teams have just two more regular-season matchups scheduled after this weekend — Feb. 12 and 13 at Peoria.
Friday's game started well for the Grizzlies, who dominated the opening period. They outshot Peoria 22-5 in the first 20 minutes, but scored only one goal, when Micah Gernander beat Walter at the 7:29 mark, with an assist from Cody Reagle.
Walter otherwise kept Rochester at bay, making 21 of his saves in the opening period.
Peoria took the lead quickly in the second period, as Ethan Chesney scored 1:31 in to tie it, then former Grizzly Thomas Kayner scored just 25 seconds later for a 2-1 lead. Kayner scored two goals in a four-game stint with Rochester early in the season, but has now hit his stride with the Mustangs, recording five points in the past six games.
The Mustangs struck early in the third period, as well, as Reid Lune notched the game-winning goal just 17 seconds in.
Matt DeRosa added a power-play goal with 4:32 to play, but the Grizzlies couldn't find the equalizer.
Zach Wiese made 21 saves in the loss for Rochester.
MUSTANGS 3, GRIZZLIES 2
Peoria 0 2 1 — 3
Rochester 1 0 1 — 2
Peoria: Ethan Chesney 1 goal; Ibriham Arifi 1 assist; Connor Henderson 1 assist; Rickey Jones 1 assist; Connor Bennett 1 assist; Heath Drye 1 assist; Jared Wisely 1 assist; Reid Lune 1 goal; Thomas Kayner 1 goal. Goalie: Cole Walter 38 saves (41 shots).
Rochester: Teppei Ueno 1 assist; Joey Fodstad 1 assist; Matt DeRosa 1 goal; Micah Gernander 1 goal; Cody Reagle 1 assist. Goalie: Zach Wiese 21 saves (24 shots).
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Walter vs. The Grizz
Rochester Century graduate Cole Walter, a goalie for the Peoria Mustangs, has been a thorn in the side of his hometown team this season. He is now 15-3-0 overall this year with a 1.71 GAA and a .931 save percentage. A look at Walter's numbers against the Rochester Grizzlies in 2020-21:
• Friday, Jan. 22: Stopped 38 of 40 shots in a 3-2 Mustangs win at Rochester.
• Sunday, Dec. 20: Stopped 21 of 25 shots in a 4-0 Grizzlies win at Peoria.
• Saturday, Dec. 19: Stopped 19 of 20 shots in a 2-1 Mustangs win at Peoria.
• Saturday, Nov. 14: Stopped 36 of 37 shots in a 2-1 Mustangs win at Rochester.
• Friday, Nov. 13: Stopped 24 of 27 shots in a 4-2 Grizzlies win at Rochester.