So. | D | Ronkonkoma, N.Y.
who almost went the major junior route, made UNO fans
jump for joy last season with 17 points.
Statistics: Grimaldi’s plus-minus rating of
+24 was second best in the CCHA behind Michigan’s Jeff
Tambellini. And while there are those skeptical of the validity
of the plus-minus statistic (and rightfully so) it should
be noted that Grimaldi compiled his mark playing for a Mavericks
team that scored only nine more goals than it allowed.
he does: Outside of perhaps Minnesota’s Alex
Goligoski, there wasn’t a defenseman in the nation that
put together a better rookie campaign than Grimaldi –
and one could proffer an argument that Grimaldi was more impressive.
His offensive numbers (three goals, 17 points) were on par
with Goligoski’s (five goals, 20 points), but the 6-foot-2,
200-pound Grimaldi commands a greater physical presence than
his willowy WCHA counterpart and Mavs’ coach Mike Kemp
wasn’t afraid to use him in just about every situation
almost immediately – he was playing close to 30 minutes
a game by Christmas. His style is similar to that of ex-Colorado
College defenseman Mark Stuart.
bigger picture: If the Mavericks are to earn their
first NCAA Tournament bid, Grimaldi – who nearly eschewed
college hockey altogether for the Ontario Hockey League’s
Windsor Spitfires – will have to anchor a defense that
showed its inexperience at times last season. UNO allowed
four or more goals in 13 of its 16 losses last season. With
forwards like Scott Parse and Bill Thomas, the Mavs are incredibly
talented up front. And though complete burden of shoring up
the team’s defense doesn’t rest solely on the
rearguards, needing four-plus goals just to have a chance
to win won’t fly, especially in the grind-it-out CCHA.
coach Mike Kemp on Grimaldi: “There's not one
element of his game that jumps out right at you, but there's
not one element you can consider a weakness. He's an excellent
skater, handles the puck well, moves the puck, is physical
and plays hard.”