ROCHESTER, Minn. – On Friday night, the Rochester Grizzlies took a 2-1 lead going to the third period before the North Iowa Bulls stormed back with three straight goals on the way to a win.
Saturday, the Grizzlies watched North Iowa snag a 2-1 lead before scoring three straight and holding off a late rush to win 4-3, forcing a decisive third game on Sunday in the NA3HL Fraser Cup West Division semifinals.
A play from Ivan Bogach (Brooklyn, N.Y./North Iowa Bulls) at the point set up the opening goal of the night for North Iowa. A toss toward the net was redirected by Jimmy McDermott (Dubuque, Iowa/Wisconsin Whalers), and Jarod Blackowiak (Eden Prairie, Minn./North Iowa Bulls) put the visitors in front with a glove-side snap past Nick Bucklin with 3:36 left in the first period.
Dysen Skinner (Billings, Mont./Sioux Falls Jr. Stampede 18U) was up to the task, making all 19 saves asked of him in the first 20 minutes of the game. The lead held up for five minutes, but Nic Leisen’s goal just 84 seconds out of the intermission made it a 1-1 game.
Each team went 1-for-4 on the power play, and the special teams headlined the second period. A tripping minor to Porter Haney just three minutes into the second period put North Iowa up a man, and with Cam Fagerlee’s (St. Anthony, Minn./North Iowa Bulls) caught Matt Dahlseide (Maplewood, Minn./North Iowa Bulls) on the weak-side post for the go-ahead tap-in at 4:31.
Less than two minutes later, Rochester answered again, this time on a goal from Oskar Stahl. With his eye on a short-distance backhand, Vladislav Sorokin opted instead to play the puck to his right, where Stahl was ready for a quick snap on the doorstep to tie the game at 2-2.
The go-ahead goal came on a power play chance for the Grizzlies, at the 8:16 mark of the second period. With 16 seconds left on a checking-from-behind infraction to Nick Bowlin (Oakdale, Minn./Tartan H.S.), Hunter Hall led the charge up the right wing. Hall shifted down a gear at the top of the faceoff circle before sending a laser past Skinner and sending the Grizzlies ahead 3-2 going to the final period.
The momentum landed firmly in Rochester’s hands after Matthew DeRosa’s goal with just under 15 minutes to go. One night after deflecting a shot from Stahl into the Bulls net, DeRosa’s goal came off of his own stick, tucking one just under the crossbar to push the lead to 4-2.
North Iowa was not about to go quietly into the night. Nick Johnson (New Richmond, Wis./Team Wisconsin) broke away from the defense to slip one past Bucklin at the left post with just 5:26 to play. Johnson’s breakaway goal just snuck past the post, triggering a signal from the linesman rather than the typical flip of the light-switch from the goal judge.
Skinner eventually left the net with 1:15 to go, but Rochester was able to chase him back to the net once and keep North Iowa from rushing the Grizzlies’ zone in the final 30 seconds.
“It was mostly mistakes by us (that were costly),” said Johnson. “If we limit those mistakes, we should come out with a win next time.”
Bucklin made 37 saves for his first postseason win, while Skinner took the loss with 46 stops of his own. The loss is the first ever for the Bulls in a first-round playoff series, after winning 16 straight contests in the division semifinals. Stahl finished the night with a goal and an assist for Rochester, while Joey Petronack (White Bear Lake, Minn./Hill-Murray H.S.) finished with two assists for the Bulls.
The Bulls and Grizzlies square off Sunday evening at the North Iowa Ice Arena with the season on the line. The opening puck drop is scheduled for 6:30 p.m., with live streaming coverage on HockeyTV and free audio streaming on Mixlr.
With Game 3 on the Bulls’ home ice, two-for-$4 beer specials will be offered, as well as merchandise sales throughout the night. To purchase advance tickets to Sunday’s game, click here.
North Iowa 1 1 1 – 3
Rochester 0 3 1 – 4
1st Period-1, North Iowa, Blackowiak 2 (McDermott, Bogach), 16:24. Penalties-Olson Roc (tripping-minor), 18:22.
2nd Period-2, Rochester, Leisen 1 (Hall), 1:24. 3, North Iowa, Dahlseide 1 (Fagerlee, Petronack), 4:31 (PP). 4, Rochester, Stahl 1 (Sorokin), 6:19. 5, Rochester, Hall 1 (Hart, Haney), 8:16 (PP). Penalties-Haney Roc (tripping-minor), 3:02; Bowlin Nio (checking from behind-minor), 6:32; Stahl Roc (slashing-minor), 8:43; Bogach Nio (hooking-minor), 19:34.
3rd Period-6, Rochester, DeRosa 2 (Stahl), 5:10. 7, North Iowa, Johnson 1 (Petronack, Wagner), 14:34. Penalties-Blackowiak Nio (hooking-minor), 8:57; Fodstad Roc (interference-minor), 9:53; Stewart Nio (interference-minor), 11:32.
Shots on Goal-North Iowa 14-12-14-40. Rochester 19-21-10-50.
Power Play Opportunities-North Iowa 1 / 0; Rochester 1 / 0.
Goalies-North Iowa, Skinner (50 shots-46 saves). Rochester, Bucklin (40 shots-37 saves).
Linesmen-Ian Carlson, Grant Crowell.