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Tom Miller / Forum News Service, Published March 16 2013

Miller: UND's Grimaldi waiting to break out

Grand Forks - University of North Dakota freshman forward Rocco Grimaldi has to unofficially lead the Western Collegiate Hockey Association in close calls.

The speedy rookie has made life miserable for opposing defenses the past few games without much to show for it.

After a few more Grade A chances went unfinished Saturday night in Michigan Tech’s 2-1 victory over UND in Game 2 of the WCHA playoff series, Grimaldi is hoping that playing on St. Patrick’s Day will provide some needed good fortune.

“I hope so,” Grimaldi said. “It’s been like this for three games or so now. I don’t know how many chances or shots I’ve had. It’s frustrating because you want to help the team win. I guess it happens, where the bounces don’t go your way. I’m hoping tomorrow is the day I break lose, get over that hump and get going.”

Grimaldi’s golden opportunity came with about three minutes to go when Danny Kristo sent him on a breakaway along the right side where Grimaldi used his speed to gain the edge on the defender. After beating the Tech defenseman along the wall, Grimaldi broke to the net and went to the backhand to try to slide a shot 5-hole on Huskies goalie Pheonix Copley.

“Danny made a great play,” Grimaldi said. “I tried to pull it to the backhand and it went wide. It’s frustrating, especially when they go down and score the game winner right after that. It sucks.”

Grimaldi, whose known to be extremely hard on himself, expressed his disappointment in UND’s power-play unit, which was 0-for-4. UND spent more than eight minutes with the man advantage and entered the series with the second-best power-play percentage in the nation during the second half of the season.

“Our power play wasn’t very good tonight, especially myself,” said Grimaldi.

UND coach Dave Hakstol’s message to Grimaldi was simple. After all, Grimaldi isn’t on some long scoring drought (three games). He just hasn’t been rewarded for the remarkable amount of scoring opportunities that he generates.

“Keep creating opportunities and make sure you’re getting pucks on net,” Hakstol said. “Just keep working hard.”

Grimaldi said he could sense in extra jump in Tech’s play Saturday with its season on the line. He also expects UND to have that same boost today with the tables turned.

“It’ll be a fast-paced up-and-down game,” Grimaldi said. “Everyone’s season is on the line tomorrow, and we don’t want to go home early. This is why we got home ice. We have to play a full 60 minutes. We played a good 40 minutes (Saturday). We had a lot of chances that didn’t go in. Their goalie had a great game, and we hope to clean it up and get a few more by him (today).”

Miller writes for the Grand Forks Herald