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Wolves forward Rocco Grimaldi isn’t only settling in with a new team, the veteran is also adapting to playing a relatively new position.
For the bulk of his career, which includes 203 NHL games with the Florida Panthers, Colorado Avalanche and Nashville Predators and another 365 contests with the AHL’s San Antonio Rampage, Portland Pirates, Milwaukee Admirals, San Diego Gulls and Rockford IceHogs, Grimaldi has played on the wing.
With the Wolves, the 30-year-old is centering the top line.
“I haven’t played center much and it’s been a while,” Grimaldi said. “I played a little bit last year because of some injuries and I’m still trying to figure out the position. It’s a little different than wing. I have to do a better job of making the two guys I’m playing with a little bit better.”
Grimaldi said the biggest adjustments come on the defensive side of the puck.
“This position is different because you’re always underneath the play,” said Grimaldi, who was selected by the Panthers in the second round (No. 33 overall) of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft. “If you’re not the first guy back, you’re going to switch as quick as possible to get low. I’m used to playing up top and taking my ‘D’ wherever he goes.”
Offensively, Grimaldi is off to a fast start with the Wolves. Entering Wednesday’s showdown against the Iowa Wild, Grimaldi led the Wolves in scoring with two goals and three assists over the team’s first four games.
“I use my speed and my creativity,” Grimaldi said. “I pride myself on making guys around me better.”
Ryan Wagner is soaking up every moment of his homecoming and is determined to make sure it lasts.
After spending the previous four seasons with the Colorado Eagles, the Park Ridge native is back with the Wolves, having inked a Professional Tryout Contract this summer.
Now, he’s back in a Wolves uniform and has worked his way into the starting lineup.
“Colorado was awesome—the fans were amazing—but it was time for a change and I’m really excited to be here,” Wagner, 27, said. “I have a big family with a lot still in this area. It’s a good change of pace.
“I’m looking forward to helping the team however that might be—on the fourth line, third line, penalty kill, whatever it is. I’m here to work and make a difference.”
At 5-8, 185 pounds, what Wagner lacks in stature he makes up for with heart and grit.
“I don’t really shy away from any contact in the corners or in front of the net,” Wagner said. “I like to get to the dirty areas and I like to give the boys some energy. I’m looking to hopefully have some offensive production as well.
“We have a lot of guys here who are good hockey players so I’m here to work my butt off and earn a spot and hopefully just keep working myself into the lineup,” he added.
IMPACT PLAY OF THE WEEK
REPUBLIC BANK SAVE OF THE WEEK
C.D.E. COLLISION CENTERS’ COLLISION OF THE WEEK
Weekly rewind (1-0-0-1)
SATURDAY, OCT. 21
Wolves 5, IceHogs 2: Rocco Grimaldi had a goal and two assists, Cavan Fitzgerald, Cole Schneider and Chris Terry each had a goal and an assist and Dominic Franco also found the back of the net to lift the Wolves.
SUNDAY, OCT. 22
Stars 3, Wolves 2 (SO): Isaac Ratcliffe and Rocco Grimaldi scored for the Wolves in regulation but it wasn’t enough as the Stars rallied late to win it in a shootout.
First Star of the Week
Where we stand
1-1-1-1, tied for second in the Central Division.
|Wednesday, Oct. 25||at Iowa||7 p.m.||Wells Fargo Arena||AHLTV|
|Saturday, Oct. 28||vs. Cleveland||7 p.m.||Allstate Arena||AHLTV/My50 Chicago|
|Friday, Nov. 3||at Tucson||9 p.m.||Tucson Convention Center Arena||AHLTV|
|Saturday, Nov. 4||at Tucson||9 p.m.||Tucson Convention Center Arena||AHLTV|
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