Here’s my story again on Union goalie Troy Grosenick. There were a couple of mistakes that have been corrected. Sorry about that. (mis-spelled Kincade instead of Kinkaid)
The regular goalie was away on vacation, so when the head coach of Troy Grosenick’s Brookfield, Wis., Mites hockey team asked for a volunteer to play and no one put their hand in the air right away, Grosenick decided, `Why not?’ So, he strapped on the pads, put on the mask, went between the pipes and posted a shutout.
Not bad for a first-timer.
Grosenick, by the way, was just 8 years old.
The next year, moving up to Squirts, again, his team was looking for a goaltender, so again, Grosenick volunteered. This time, though, he didn’t play in just one game. He played in just about all of them.
“I just kind of became the goalie,” Grosenick said the other day in a phone interview. “I ended up going to a bunch of goalie camps and things like that. I had been a left winger. I was decent but I don’t think I would have made it very far.”
Grosenick’s dad, Scott, would often take his work lunch break at the rink where Troy was practicing, so he could get a better handle on what a goalie goes through. He also worked long hours with Troy, peppering him with shots to improve his technique.
Grosenick spent a couple of seasons with the Cedar Rapids (Wis.) Rough Riders, leading the team to a pair of second-place finishes in the United States Hockey League’s East Division. In 2009-10, he played in 44 games, posting a .902 save percentage.
Fast forward to today. Grosenick is the starting goaltender for the No. 3-ranked Union College hockey team, which will be facing off against Michigan State in the NCAA East Region Division I hockey tournament on Friday at 3 p.m. at the Webster Bank Arena.
Grosenick boasts a record of 20-5-3 and has a goals-against average of 1.65. His five shutouts have tied the single-season Union record. He jus-t won the Ken Dryden Award as the ECAC Goaltender of the Year and is also one of 10 finalists for the Hobey Baker award, given annually to the nation’s best collegiate hockey player. He is the first player in Union history to be named as a finalist.
Grosenick helped lead Union (24-7-7) to the ECAC championship, and that No. 3 ranking is the highest ever in the program’s 21-year history at the Division I level.
Interestingly, Grosenick barely played as a freshman. He saw action in just three games, getting one start against UConn. He saw just 84:55 of action, sitting and watching as senior Keith Kinkaid led the Flying Dutchmen to the NCAA East regional last season, losing to Minnesota-Duluth 2-0.
But when Kinkaid graduated, Union’s goalie position was up for grabs. Grosenick took it and never let it go.
“There’s something about an opportunity and he was given one and he ran with it,” Union coach Rick Bennett said. “He didn’t just walk in and know the job was his, he had to earn it. And he did. His number one strength is his work ethic.”
“I knew that over the summer with Keith leaving there was a void to be filled,” Grosenick said. “I knew there was going to be a competition to fill that spot, so over the summer, I made sure I worked hard, did everything I could and came in prepared.”
Grosenick spent his summer working with Union teammate Ryan Forgaard.
In the morning, the two would work out at Forgaard’s former prep school, Shattuck St. Mary’s in Faribault, Minn. Three or four times a week, Grosenick would get on the ice and defend shot after shot after shot.
“I jut buckled down, focused and stuck to the plan,” he said. “I worked on a different thing every day, all the things I needed to improve on.”
He also learned a lot simply by watching Kinkaid and No. 2 goalie Corey Milan go through their routines last season.
“I think I learned that you have to be prepared every night, be consistent,” Grosenick said. “Corey also really helped with the transition, making sure you have your head on straight.”
Maybe too straight. As any diehard hockey fan knows, goaltenders are an unusual bunch, marching to the beat of their own drummer. Most have crazy superstitions. But not Grosenick.
“I like to claim that I’m the most normal goalie you’ll ever meet, but who knows? The guys on the team might say something different,” he said. “I don’t have too many pre-game rituals, kissing my posts or anything like that. I don’t know. I guess I haven’t taken enough pucks to the head.”