On March 25th, Buccaneers captain Patrick Grasso took a pass from defenseman Alec Rauhauser and, from inside the Des Moines defensive zone, buried an empty net goal to silence the crowd at the Viaero Events Center in Kearney, Nebraska. The Ankeny, Iowa native’s 19th goal of the season sealed a 3-0 victory for the Buccaneers over the Tri-City Storm. It was also an exclamation point on the career of Grasso, as he picked up his 100th USHL point with the tally.
Buccaneers head coach Dave Allison has known Grasso for a long time, as Allison coached the AHL’s Iowa Stars from 2005-2008 while Patrick was a stick boy for the team. One might think Allison never thought Grasso would end up being such a force in the USHL, but he offered up the opposite answer when asked.
“Well, to be quite honest, yes, because he was a rink rat. He and CJ Smith (University of Massachusetts Lowell) were just passionate about the game and you could see that they just loved the rink. They were respectful, they listened, and they were there because they wanted to be there,” recalled Allison. “They loved being around the players and the players loved being around them because there was an innocence about the love of the game.”
When Patrick Grasso put on a Buccaneer uniform for 17 games in the 2012-2013 season, he didn’t aim to reach the century mark for his career, but as he neared the milestone, it became one more target he had his sights set on.
“It was something that I never thought that seriously about, but it was kind of one of those things that I noticed it later in the year, and it was something I knew I might be able to accomplish. I made it a little bit of a goal by the end of the season,” Grasso admitted.
Like Allison, Buccaneers assistant coach Nate Weossner wasn’t surprised in the least by the accomplishment of their captain, and he said that the main reason he achieved such a feat is his work ethic.
“Grasso is one of the, if not the, hardest workers I’ve seen since I’ve been in Des Moines. His preparation is bar none, how he concentrates on his craft like a pro,” explained Weossner. “It’s not a surprise at all that Patrick has put up 100 points in the USHL and there will be more to come when he gets to New Hampshire.”
Allison knows a lot of factors went in to Grasso reaching the level of play that he’s reached, including his background. “The kid and the family are quality. His dad was a stick boy for the New York Rangers when my brother (Mike) played there when he was 19, 20 years old. There’s a history and Patrick Grasso is just character. He’s just a wonderful human being,” Allison beamed. “You talk about ‘love this game like a child but play it like a man.’ He’s 160 pounds but he plays it like a man.”
Grasso was asked if he realized that he scored his 100th point the same night that Mark Senden picked up his first USHL point, one game after Isaac Johnson got his first, and one game before Kobe Roth reached the same milestone.
“Yeah it’s cool. I still remember my first goal and my first year and it’s something special that all those kids will remember,” recalled Grasso. “Just being able to see those guys step up and take a bite of this (USHL action), I think it’s going to lead to a bright future here.”
It’s rare for a player to have as long of a USHL career as Grasso has had, and to do it all with one organization, his hometown team, makes Patrick’s story very special. When asked what he thought of compiling all 100 points in a Buccaneer uniform, Grasso remarked “I think that just makes it all the more special, being from Des Moines.”
Grasso didn’t rest on his accomplishment, which isn’t a surprise to anyone who knows the Bucs captain. The next night at Buccaneer Arena, Grasso had two goals, including another empty netter, and an assist to seal a 6-3 victory over the Storm. For his performance over the weekend, Grasso was named USHL CCM Forward of the Week.
Headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, the USHL celebrates its 14th season as the nation's only Tier I junior hockey league in 2015-16. A record 37 players were chosen in the 2015 NHL Draft and more than 375 players on team rosters last season committed to NCAA Division I schools, further establishing the USHL as the world’s foremost producer of junior hockey talent.
Tag(s): Top Story