3View: Rochester Grizzlies
The 3View series will feature an in-depth look into all NA3HL teams in preparation for the 2022-23 season, with two teams being highlighted daily, leading all the way up until the start of the regular season. 3View goes in-depth into each NA3HL team and will include interviews with all the head coaches in the NA3HL, as they provide fans with their expectations and outlook for the 2022-23 season, including taking a look at their potential roster and their strengths as a team for the upcoming season. It will also take a look back on the 2021-22 season and how each team fared and what they accomplished. Best of all, 3View will provide the fans of the NA3HL with an inside look at their favorite team and what to expect.
2021-22 Record: 38-6-2-1, 79 pts. (1st in Central Division)
2022 Playoffs: Won the Central Division, Won the Fraser Cup
Head Coach: Chris Ratzloff
2022-23 Division: Central
The Rochester Grizzlies left their mark on the 2021-22 season being named Fraser Cup National Champions for the first time in franchise history. After finishing the regular season atop of the Central Division, the Grizzlies continued their winning ways into the Fraser Cup playoffs. But, winning the Cup was not the only highlight of last season according to Head Coach Chris Ratzloff.
“Winning the Fraser for the first time as a franchise with how short our history is was a great accomplishment but seeing the growth and development of all of our players was a highlight,” Ratzloff said.
Being a development league, the NA3HL strives in the advancement of players. Especially when it comes to moving onto the NAHL or collegiate hockey, which is something that the Grizzlies strive for. Two Grizzlies made their way onto NAHL rosters mid-season with Connor Mahony going to the Minnesota Magicians and Jake Laurila to the Chippewa Steel.
“With five players leaving to play college hockey and eight making NAHL 30-man training camps, we feel fortunate for the opportunities our players have received,” Ratzloff said. “We have tried to build a team first culture while working on skill development with relentless competition and our players are finding that with team success comes individual opportunities. We try to develop and prepare our players to be ready to compete and succeed at the next level whether that is the NAHL, college or life."
The Grizzlies will see a handful of returning players from that championship squad of last season back on the ice. Rochester will be leaning on all of those returners heavily and will expect them to play a bigger role than last year.
“We will have less than half of our team back, but we will be led by Per Waage, Logan Kroyman and Dawson McLaughlin defensively. Offensively, Austin Meers, Max Clark, Tyler Ownby, Koltan Kane and Luke Nemeth. Along with having Lucas Henderson and Kaleb Bents returning in net,” Ratzloff said.
With experience and returning players, and a bar set to the highest it can be, the Grizzlies will once again battle during the regular season out of one of the tightest divisions in the NA3HL.
“The Central is getting tighter every year. Each team is getting better players and is raising the level of play across the Central to a new high. It's a division where you can't take a night off and any team can beat any other team any night. It will be exciting to see how we do as a division this season at the Showcase. Last year Wausau gave us two good battles in the first round and Oregon fought hard to push the finals to a winner take all. I believe that those five games are what prepared us most for the Fraser Cup, especially with the first game loss to Northeast,” Ratzloff said.
The Grizzlies are carrying high expectations into the upcoming year. With a veteran-led roster and a strong desire to take home back-to-back Championships.
“We expect to continue building our culture and to compete at our best every night,” Ratzloff said. “We will continue to focus on the development of younger players and getting them opportunities to advance. We are excited about the group we have coming in and are grateful for the opportunity to work with them.”
The reigning Fraser Cup Champions will be a fun team to watch again this season in the Central Division.
Next Up: Peoria Mustangs