UND’s Grimaldi sidelined for seasonGRAND FORKS — Rocco Grimaldi will have to wait another year to introduce his game-breaking speed and elite talent to the college hockey world.
By: Brad Schlossman, Forum Communications Co.
GRAND FORKS — Rocco Grimaldi will have to wait another year to introduce his game-breaking speed and elite talent to the college hockey world.
After struggling with an injury that’s ailed him since fall camp, the University of North Dakota freshman forward and preseason Western Collegiate Hockey Association rookie of the year will have season-ending surgery on his kneecap, the school announced Thursday.
The decision to have surgery comes after the team shut Grimaldi down for two months in hopes that an injury he sustained during fall camp would subside, but it did not.
“Everyone did everything possible to avoid the surgery, but after seven months, it’s time to make the decision,” UND coach Dave Hakstol said. “As you can imagine, he’s very disappointed.”
Cartilage near Grimaldi’s kneecap became irritated after it absorbed a slap shot during fall camp. The knee pad Grimaldi was using was cracked and the irritated cartilage caused pain to come and go.
Grimaldi tried to play through the injury in four games, but was slowed by it. He managed to score a dazzling goal against Minnesota and add an assist.
Pain in the knee persisted after the Minnesota series and UND was left with the option of season-ending surgery or shutting Grimaldi down for two months and giving him a chance to play this season.
UND opted for the latter, but it didn’t work.
Hakstol said that if the surgery and rehab goes as planned, Grimaldi should “definitely” be ready to go by the beginning of next season.
Grimaldi also is eligible to apply for a medical redshirt, however, it is unlikely he will be in college for five years and use it.
The Grimaldi news is yet another blow to a team that’s already injury-ravaged.
Forward Derek Rodwell (shoulder) is out for the season. Forward Brendan O’Donnell is out indefinitely with an upper-body injury and will find out mid-week next week whether there’s a chance for him to come back this season.
Forward Michael Parks was injured last week on a check from behind and is questionable for this weekend. Defenseman Derek Forbort sustained an injury at the World Junior Championship and won’t be back against St. Cloud State, either (7:37 tonight, 7:07 p.m.).
UND won’t be able to fill out a full lineup against the Huskies.
“You can choose to approach it however you please,” Hakstol said. “We’ve got some good players out with injuries. We’ve also got good players in the lineup. This team has been a close team, a tight team that’s responded to challenges throughout the year. We’re just going to keep our focus on what our job is right now and that’s winning critical hockey games.”
Huskies also ailing
UND won’t be the only team on the ice in the National Hockey Center this weekend reeling from a shortage of players.
St. Cloud State has been playing without top-line center Drew LeBlanc and top goalie Mike Lee for a couple of months. Both will miss this weekend’s series, though Lee is close to returning. The Huskies also lost Cam Reid to the Western Hockey League and Mitch MacMillan to UND over Christmas break.
They picked up Joe Rehkamp from the United States Hockey League to help fill out the roster at semester time.
“It doesn’t matter who is out of the lineup,” St. Cloud State coach Bob Motzko said. “It matters who is in the lineup. And there will be enough guys in the lineup on both sides to make this a hell of a weekend.”
Ryan Faragher, who replaced Lee as the top goalie after the injury, will make his 19th-straight start tonight. His first start in that streak came against UND in Ralph Engelstad Arena. He posted a 44-save shutout.
“We’re very happy with what the young freshman has done for us,” Motzko said. “He’s had an outstanding season for us. It’s obvious that he’s a heck of a goalie with a great future.”
Motzko said his team has been playing its best hockey as of late. St. Cloud State is 3-3 in the last six games, but two of those three losses came in overtime.
“I think we’ve been playing very well for over a month now,” Motzko said. “We’ve been a little victimized in close games. But we’ve got a very strong lineup. We like it a lot. We can’t afford any more dings, but this is our lineup and we’ve been playing our best hockey.”
Schlossman is a sports reporter for the Grand Forks Herald, which is owned by Forum Communications Co.