Rocco Grimaldi may be the most interesting prospect to enter the 2011 NHL Entry Draft. He’s only 5-6 but he has the kind of determination that will make him a solid NHL player someday. He’s very noticeable on the ice and his offensive skills are undeniable. It all started at a very young age for the Michigan native.
“When I was about 7 I knew I had a gift at a young age. I had good people around me teaching me stick handling and skating. I just love the game,” he said. Then he talked about playing against older competition even at a very young age.
“I played for the Bay City Bombers. I was about five. The players were 9 or 10.”
This past winter Grimaldi had his sights set on making the World Junior squad, and most pundits felt this would happen, but the end result was he didn’t make the team which did disappoint him.
“Absolutely I was. It was one of the goals that I had. I try not to get down for a long time, maybe a day. I can remember that and work even harder,” he stated. Then he talked about making next year’s team.
Next year the talented forward will attend the University of North Dakota - - a real hockey hotbed! He loves the coaching staff and that was a part of the equation why he chose them.
“I want to just try and get better. That’s my first goal. They’ve had a lot of good players come out of there. It’s not my end goal I want to play in the NHL. Jonathan Toews, Travis Zajac and T. J. Oshie are a few of the players who have come out within the last few years.
I’m sure Grimaldi has heard a lot about his height over the years but his play does the talking and it’s never been an issue at any level. I’m sure watching guys like Martin St. Louis and Nate Gerbe give him hope that he’ll play on that same level in the future.
“Yeah I guess so. I still have to prove myself, the same goes for big guys,” Grimaldi stated.
Playing for the NTDP is quite an honor but you also have the best possible coaching at your disposal and this forward has loved every minute of it.
“It’s been great for me and our team. Obviously playing internationally is the best part. I did that with the U-17 and U-18 teams (he has three gold medals on his resume), it kind of came together in the end,” said Grimaldi.
Why was his plus/minus so bad last year?
“I don’t know. I think we are winning games now instead of losing by 10 goals in the USHL. I think we won our first game about 15 games in.” (this is why that statistic can be so misleading)
In his down time he likes to head to the movie theatre and now he gives a review of his favorite movie of the year.
“Salt with Angelina Jolie. She was good. There was action all the way through it. It kept you guessing and it was a pretty crazy ending. It’s one of the best movies I’ve ever seen!”
Grimaldi trains hard and that’s a big reason he’s been so successful.
“Last year I was training six days a week taking Sundays off to rest and recover. 4 days a week was for lifting, 1 day for legs, to get a longer stride and to get faster. I also boxed 1 day a week.”
When he’s in Auburn Hills he eats at Longhorn Steakhouse.
“They have the best food. Great steak, it’s just unbelievable,” said Grimaldi.
He spends summers in California and listens to Christian Rap and rock. He’s a first round talent but may become a second round pick this coming June - - only time will tell.
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