Junior hockey roundup: Grizzlies, Bruins, Vipers have Happy New Year’s Eve
WILLMAR — Liam Kelly stopped 32 shots in his second consecutive start and the Rochester Grizzlies won for the sixth time in eight games, beating Willmar 3-1 in a New Year’s Eve special at the Willmar Civic Center Arena on Monday.
Kelly, who improved to 4-4-0 this season as a starter, earned the start in Monday’s game with his strong performance in a 3-1 home loss on Saturday against North American 3 Hockey League West Division rival North Iowa.
Kelly was strong from the opening faceoff and got stronger as the game went on, making seven stops in the first period, 14 in the second period and 11 in the third.
The Grizzlies, in their inaugural season in the NA3HL, ended the 2018 calendar year with a 21-8-0 record. The victory leaves Rochester just two points back of second-place North Iowa in the division standings, and just three points back of division-leading Granite City.
Matthew DeRosa opened the scoring against Willmar on Monday, netting his 16th goal of the season — and sixth in the month of December — with just 1:40 remaining in the first period.
The Grizzlies added two more goals in the second period against WarHawks goalie Nelson Schiller (30 saves). Rochester’s Peyton Hart scored the game winner halfway through the second period, finishing a nice feed from Porter Haney on a 2-on-1 rush.
Then, Vlad Sorokin scored his team-leading 27th goal of the season on a power play with 51 seconds to play in the second, giving the Grizzlies a 3-0 lead after two periods.
Jacob May got Willmar (6-22-2) on the board with 5:14 left in the game, scoring his team’s lone goal.
Haney, Seth Bacon, Lucas Newman and Richard Szabo had one assist each for the Grizzlies.
The Grizzlies play at Granite City at 7:30 p.m. Saturday.
Rochester is back home next Wednesday, Jan. 9, at 7:05 p.m. against Granite City, then again at 7:05 p.m. Jan. 11 against Breezy Point.
BRUINS RALLY IN THIRD FOR WIN
CLOQUET — One of the Austin Bruins’ leading goal scorers came through at the perfect time on Monday night.
Andy Willis — second on the team with 11 goals this season — scored 45 seconds into the third period to halt a Minnesota Wilderness rally and propel the Bruins to a 5-3 North American Hockey League victory.
The Wilderness had rallied twice to tie the score, but Willis’ goal gave Austin the lead for good.
The Bruins led 2-1 after one period on goals by Willis and Levi Stauber.
Dante Zapata added a second-period goal for Austin, but Nick Portz and Dylan Johnson scored for the Wilderness to tie it at 3-3 after two.
That set up Willis’ game winner early in the third period, and Che Landikusic scored his second goal of the season with 2:28 left to make it 5-3.
Kyle McClellan made 19 saves for Austin (20-8-3), while Kaleb Johnson stopped 26 shots in the loss for the Wilderness (17-13-1).
Joe Winkelmann, Dylan Davies and Reggie Millette had one assist each for the Bruins, who play at Brookings at 7:05 p.m. Friday, then play host to Brookings at 7:05 p.m. Saturday.
VIPERS SHUT DOWN BLADES
KASSON — Five players scored once each and Adrian Morales made 25 saves in his second start for the Kasson Vipers, as they defeated the Steele County Blades 5-2 in a U.S. Premier Hockey League game Monday at Dodge County Ice Arena.
Two former Rochester Century forwards scored in the game — Eric St. Marie for Steele County and Ben Haas for Kasson.
St. Marie scored the lone goal of the first period, but the Vipers responded in the second with goals from Lake Powell, Austin Burgener and Cameron Bennett. Haas and Thomas Chaulk added third-period goals for the Vipers (9-24-1), who stopped a brief two-game losing streak.
Steele County (Owatonna) dropped to 5-20-0.
Kasson is back in action at 7 p.m .Jan. 12 at home against the Minnesota Mullets.