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Mason City community members help hockey team stuck in town due to snow

The Rochester Grizzlies are being treated to some Iowa hospitality as they waited for road conditions to improve

Posted: Feb 25, 2019 9:03 PM
Updated: Feb 25, 2019 10:09 PM

MASON CITY, Iowa - Members of the Rochester Grizzlies are finding themselves stranded in Mason City.

The Grizzlies and the North Iowa Bulls faced off on Saturday at the North Iowa Events Center. By the time the game ended, the weather had taken a turn for the worse, and the team was not able to make it home, so they stayed an extra night in Mason City.

While it's not an ideal situation, teammate Matthew DeRosa says they're doing their best to stay positive.

"We knew coming up here we'd stay at a hotel for a day, but we weren't expecting to stay for two. A little bit surprising, but it's good team bonding for the boys."

Some local restaurants are even pitching in, making sure the hungry hockey players are well-fed. In addition, the Mason City YMCA opened their facility at no charge to the team.

JR Dirksen is the co-manager of Subway, one of those that stepped up. He came in while the restaurant was closed to serve sandwiches to the team.

"We really love helping out the community. And community involvement's a big thing we do. We just love helping everyone around because they would help us if they could."

Coach Casey Mignone appreciates the kind-heartedness the town has provided.

"25 guys, you gotta prepare meals. Breakfast, prepare lunch, lunch, prepare dinner, so these guys have been pretty good. A lot of guys to a room. It's been ok though, a lot of team bonding."

When it came to deciding on cancelling or postponing Saturday's game, Mignone says it's not exactly an easy thing to do, especially one that's on a Saturday night.

"It's hard to cancel a game when...we're supposed to leave at 3 o'clock, and there's no weather to be had, so it's tough to do. You have to prepare for the worst and roll with the punches.

"The one thing I think we maybe could've done if it was an option was to bump the game up a little bit earlier, but it's hard. Saturday night home games are important for our ownership and our league, and that's when you get a lot of fans. We understood that they didn't want to have to cancel the game if they didn't have cancel and the storm doesn't happen, it's kind of a tough lug. It's been good for us, we won, we're happy, we're having a good time."

The team will be on the road again this week on Thursday, as they will be taking a road trip to Evansville, Indiana to face the Evansville Jr. Thunderbolts.

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