On Friday, March 25th, Buccaneers forward and captain Patrick Grasso took a pass from Alec Rauhauser and from the halfway point between the defensive left circle and Des Moines’ blue line Grasso buried an empty net goal to silence the crowd at the Viaero Events Center. It was the Ankeny, Iowa native’s 19th goal of the season and it sealed a 3-0 victory for the Buccaneers over the Tri-City Storm. It was also an exclamation point on the career of Grasso with the Buccaneers as he picked up his 100th USHL point.
Buccaneers head coach Dave Allison has known Grasso for some time now, as Allison used to coach the AHL’s Iowa Stars from 2005-2008, and during that stint Patrick was a stick boy for his future coach. You might think that coach Allison would today state that he could never have known that Grasso would end up being such a force in the USHL, but Allison offered up the exact opposite answer when asked if he ever could have dreamed Patrick would reach the 100 point milestone in the USHL. “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 first put on a Buccaneer uniform for 17 games in the 2012-2013 season he didn’t aim to reach the century mark, 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 and I made it a little bit of a goal by the end of the season,” admitted Grasso.
Buccaneers assistant coach Nate Weossner, just like coach Allison, 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.” (Grasso is committed to playing hockey for the University of New Hampshire)
Coach Allison knows that 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.
We asked Patrick 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, but to do it all with one organization, and his hometown team on top of that, makes Patrick’s story very unique. When asked what he thought of compiling all 100 points in a Buccaneer uniform, Grasso said “I think that just makes it all the more special, being from Des Moines.”
And, as you’ve come to expect, Grasso didn’t rest on his laurels; the next night at Buccaneer Arena Grasso had two goals and an assist, including another empty net goal to seal a 6-3 victory over the Storm. For his performance over the weekend Grasso was named USHL CCM Forward of the Week.
Patrick Grasso in his First Season with the Buccaneers (2012-2013) While Still Wearing Number 11