ROCHESTER, Minn. - Sports teams across Minnesota will finally be able to practice again on January 4 when the pause on sports is lifted. For the Rochester Grizzlies, it’s long past due. The last time the team had a home game in the Med City was November 14. Since then, they’ve spent plenty of time on the road and players like Zach Wiese can’t wait to return to the Rochester Rec Center.
“I want to get back to being at home with our fans and have them behind us. Even though it’s like 250 (spectators allowed), it’s still a big difference being able to play at home.”
Out of the 18 games the Grizzlies have played so far this season, only seven of them have been at home. Peyton Hart says this season has been different – constantly practicing and playing games on the road.
“It’s just been weird being away from home. You were in your daily routine waking up at the same time and driving 10-15 minutes to the rink. You’d practice and go home or go to work. Now, it’s trying to wake up, driving an hour and 15 minutes to La Crosse, practice for an hour and drive back. It’s something completely out of the norm,” Hart said.
Despite spending so much time on the road this season it’s paying off. The Grizzlies currently lead the NA3HL Central Division with a 15-3 record. Hart says once they return home, they still have a lot to prove.
“No one usually likes to come into our building and I know if they do beat us, it’s a pretty big momentum booster for them.”
That’s where all of the long hours spent on the bus come into play. The team has been able to bond allowing for a better product on the ice. After a successful first half of the season, Wiese says they need to keep doing the work to be where they want to be in March.
“We’ve just got to keep grinding through everything. Granted, COVID could take over again and we could be done tomorrow. You’ve just got to play every game like it’s the last game you’ll be able to play and have fun too. That’s a big part of us and coach always says have fun so that’s all we’re trying to do,” Wiese said.
New guidance released by Minnesota health officials allows for games in Minnesota to resume on January 14. The Grizzlies are scheduled to host the St. Louis Junior Blues on January 15.