College Hockey Inc., held a showcase for prospective players in southern California on Thursday, and Rocco Grimaldi stopped by to give his thoughts on playing college hockey.
He also told a little-known story.
Grimaldi said he almost left the NTDP early to go play major juniors.
“It didn’t work out and I’m glad it didn’t,” he said. “Going to North Dakota was one of the best things that’s happened in my life.”
Grimaldi touted not only the thrills on the ice, but also how much he enjoyed off the ice stuff as well. He noted that he met his fiance at UND and that the groomsmen who will be standing next to him at the wedding are people he met at UND as well.
“I went to North Dakota and I believe it’s the best school in the world and I’m always going to try to sell the program,” he said.
But Grimaldi also sold college hockey as a whole. He said that once you go to a school, you are always part of that school.
“For me, I’m a Fighting Sioux alum,” he said. “I’ll always be a Fighting Sioux. You are always welcomed back. I’ve been to North Dakota three times already this summer to visit guys.
“You build relationships with friends, teammates and students, wherever you go to school. You have a family there with all the different people you meet, especially the guys you play with and the freshmen you go in with. You guys go in together and you don’t know what you’re doing. You’re not the smartest guys. I was lucky to go in with a great class. There were 10 of us. I made special bonds with everybody, but those 10 guys in particular. I’ll always be alumni there.”
Grimaldi was at UND for three years, but took full-time online classes to graduate from UND in the spring. He returned to college to walk for his graduation ceremony.
He said the hockey was second-to-none, too.
“A lot of major junior guys tell me today that they wish they would have gone to college,” Grimaldi said. “You’ll never get that atmosphere again.
“You’ll never be able to play in front of students like college. It’s the greatest atmosphere you’ll ever play at.”
At the end of Grimaldi’s presentation, he asked the players if they had any questions. One asked about travel.
“At North Dakota, we’re spoiled. We had charters everywhere, and when you get on the plane, there is a basket on your seat with a meal in it.”