Rochester Grizzlies fight past Oregon in penultimate regular-season game
The Rochester Grizzlies got big performances from three of their best players Friday night to pull out a 2-1 victory against the visiting Oregon (Wis.) Tradesmen at the Rochester Recreation Center. The first-place Grizzlies wrap up their regular season Saturday.
ROCHESTER — The Rochester Grizzlies are looking to build some momentum heading into the North American 3 Hockey League playoffs.
A week ago, the Grizzlies wrapped up the NA3HL Central Division regular-season championship.
This weekend, they're looking to build on that championship as they close the regular season at home with a two-game set against division rival Oregon (Wis.).
The Grizzlies earned a hard-fought victory in Game 1 of the series on Friday night, edging the Tradesmen 2-1 at the Rochester Recreation Center behind goals from two first-liners, and a strong performance in net from their veteran goaltender.
Ben Oakland scored his fourth goal and ninth point in his ninth game as a Grizzly, and Layten Liffrig added the game-winning goal — his 14th goal and 36th point in his 23rd game with the Grizzlies. Owatonna native Zach Wiese stopped 18 of the 19 shots he faced to improve to 19-2-2 this season. Wiese lowered his lowered his goals-against average to 1.78 and upped his save percentage to .924.
The Grizzlies improve to 37-6-3 with the win, tying the franchise record for wins in a regular season. They can break that mark with a win in Saturday's regular season finale against the Tradesmen. The puck is scheduled to drop at 7:05 p.m. at the Rec Center.
Friday night, Rochester peppered Tradesmen goalie Anthony Adleman from start to finish, putting 41 shots on goal in the game, including 17 in the first period. Adleman was up to the task, stopping all 17, before surrendering a goal to Oakland 5:22 into the second period, then giving up the game winner to Liffrig 7:22 later. Those two scores helped the Grizzlies rally, after Oregon's Abe Laggis had opened the scoring 2:19 into the second period with a power-play goal.
Friday's game was not the most cleanly played game. Rochester and Oregon combined for 72 penalty minutes — 37 against the Grizzlies, 35 against the Tradesmen — including a fighting majory and an ejection for each team (Gunnar Schiffmann for Oregon, Matthew Shaw for Rochester) midway through the third period.
Oregon made a push in the third period to tie the score, but Wiese made seven of his 19 saves to seal the victory for the Grizzlies.
The Grizzlies will open postseason play on Friday, March 11, against the Wausau Cyclones in Game 1 of a best 2-out-of-3 Central Division semifinal series at the Rec Center at 7:05 p.m. Game 2 of the series is set for Saturday, March 12, at Wausau. A Game 3, if necessary, is set for 1:05 p.m. on Sunday, March 13, at the Rec Center.