ROCHESTER, Minn. - It has been almost two weeks since the Rochester Grizzlies last played a game but the team is feeling confident and refreshed after some much-needed rest. Now, their attention is on the Fraser Cup Playoffs.
“Finally. Two years in the making so yeah, we’re excited to get going here,” said Head Coach Chris Ratzloff. “But, everything we’ve done up to now is just to get to this point so it doesn’t really mean anything. Now is when the real game starts.”
Forget the wins and losses. Now that playoff season is officially here, Matthew DeRosa keeps in mind that anything can happen, making it all the more important to stick to the structure that they are accustomed to.
“The Division I level this weekend, no one seed won. I mean, they’re all skilled but some of the seeds are more skilled than the teams that actually won because they stuck to the system and they wore the other teams down,” DeRosa said.
Fortunately, the Grizzlies earned home-ice advantage for the playoffs. In the past two seasons combined, Rochester has only lost five games at the Rec Center.
“When you come here, you’re going to want to hate to play here and we bring that mentality every time we play here,” Joey Fodstad said. “Teams don’t want to come to Rochester because they know what’s going to happen. Hopefully, we can keep that in the playoffs and just keep that motto.”
The Grizzlies will open their playoff journey with the Oregon Tradesmen on Apr. 2. Even though the Grizzlies have won seven out of the eight matchups this season, they expect nothing but the Tradesmen’s best.
“Everything’s a little different,” Fodstad added. “You have less space, you have to finish your hits, you’re going to get hit and it’s just a lot different. The intensity, the level of hockey – everything just grows in playoffs.”
While the team may not have a lot of NA3HL playoff experience, Coach Ratzloff is confident in their ability.
“We’ve got a lot of guys that have been on state championship teams and played in the state tournament,” he said. “I think they’ve got experience in big situations, just not in this league. I think we’ll be alright.”
The Grizzlies also anticipate having a larger crowd during the playoffs. Tickets are available here.