Playing for Team Illinois ‘For Sure’ Helped Goalie Grosenick Make His Way to the NHL

Registers win for Los Angeles Kings this month – his first in the NHL in 6+ years

By Ross Forman – When the Los Angeles Kings defeated the host Anaheim Ducks 5-1 on March 10, goalie Troy Grosenick made 33 saves in his first NHL appearance since 2014.

He last stopped NHL shots in two games for the San Jose Sharks in November 2014.

“It was good,” Grosenick said of the W. “I’ve felt for a long time like I could play in the NHL, was just waiting for an opportunity. I treated it like any other game, just kind of went out and did my thing, prepared the same way, all that type of stuff.

“There was some extra emotion after the game, especially when I got home, saw my wife (Maggie) and gave her a hug because she’s been through the ups and downs of a lengthy pro hockey career with me. That was pretty special.”

Grosenick, 31, landed in goal that Wednesday night in Anaheim after Kings’ goalie Jonathan Quick missed his second straight game with an upper-body injury, and fellow goalie Cal Petersen went into COVID-19 protocol about three hours before the game.

Debora Robinson – NHLI/Getty Images
John Cordes – Icon Sportswire/Getty Images

Grosenick’s win was truly a milestone: six years and 112 days between wins, marking the seventh-longest stretch between regular-season victories in NHL history.

The win hit him when he saw his wife. “That’s when the emotions really started coming out,” he said. “It’s hard to explain how much my family has meant to me throughout my whole career. We sat down, had a drink, and reflected on the good times and the bad times. It was a fun, chill night with my wife.”

Grosenick’s victory reverberated back to the Midwest. He is a Wisconsin native, born in Brookfield, and a 2007 Brookfield East High School alum.

He also played for Team Illinois midget majors for a season, with his trek to the NHL next landing with the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders for two years.

“It’s cool,” representing Wisconsin, he said. “People from Wisconsin have a lot of pride, and I’m no exception to that. I’m proud of where I’m from, am hopeful I can represent my state and make everyone else proud.”

Grosenick’s career also included parts of three seasons in goal for the Milwaukee Admirals.

As for TI, he said the season was “a lot of fun.”

“I made the decision to play (for) TI … it was my best option to continue my hockey career,” he said. “I could have gone play (in) some lower-level junior league, but just decided to play midget major for that year.”

Grosenick admitted he considered just enrolling in college after graduating from high school and retiring from the sport.

But, playing for TI, “ended up being one of the best decisions I ever made,” he said.

“That team was a good group of guys, a fun team to be around, and (some of those teammates) are still my closest friends. The team had a good run. We knew we were a good team and started clicking at the right time.”

Grosenick’s TI squad won state and regionals, but came up short at nationals, finishing second.

They lost to perennial power Shattuck-St. Mary’s.

“That whole weekend in Buffalo, playing multiple games in a day,” were memorable, Grosenick said. “Our guys really enjoyed our last few days we had together. We knew we would never again be a team – and we rallied around that (fact).

“We came up a little short (against) Shattuck, but it was a helluva run.”

Photo courtesy of Troy Grosenick

Grosenick was coached by Jim Marchi at TI, and he still recalls games that season against such foes as Belle Tire, LA Hockey Club, and others.

Marchi recalls recruiting Grosenick for what was his senior season, to no avail.

“I saw Troy play quite a bit for a couple years prior to him joining our club, and it was apparent that he had elite level talent,” Marchi said. “The year Troy joined our club, we had a good club but were not necessarily as dynamic as some of our teams in prior years. Troy was our X-factor and, in my opinion, the best U18 goalie in the nation that season. Troy gave our team a great opportunity to win every game he started, and down the stretch in playoff games he single-handedly won us playoff games.

“In the state tournament finals that season we went into overtime and then a shootout in a big game, and Troy was lights out for us, shutting the door in overtime and also completely shutting down all the opposing teams’ shooters in the shootout victory.”

Starting with the first game of the state tournament, Grosenick and his TI team won 16 consecutive games, leading to the national championship game against Shattuck.

“Troy again was the X-factor and certainly the biggest reason we reeled off 16 straight playoff (wins),” Marchi said. “Troy got us to that (national championship) game and he was the talk of Nationals. He was clearly the best goalie in the country that year and he was, and still is, the best goalie that ever played for one of my teams.

“We had so many U18 teams (ranked among the) top 5, and Troy was the best of the best at his position.”

Marchi added: “It’s very satisfying to see him get another opportunity to play at the highest level and have a great game. As good as Troy was on the ice, he was an even better young man off of it. I hold Troy and his family in the highest regards. I wish him more success and all the best in his future endeavors.”

The Shattuck loss still stings for Grosenick, a decade-plus later.

“They took it to us pretty good; it was a disappointing loss – and that loss now still sticks out,” he said. “Losses tend to stick with you. But they also fuel your fire. I think you draw a lot more from adversity in tough times as opposed to good times, when things are easy.”

Vince Pedrie, now on the TI coaching staff, was teammates with Grosenick in Milwaukee. Pedrie saw Grosenick was, without a doubt, “one of the most talented goalies I have ever played with.”

“Some of the saves he made were mind-boggling,” Pedrie said. “He singlehandedly won us multiple games in Milwaukee and was our best player. Off the ice, I’m not sure if I have ever met such a good person. There weren’t many days ‘Goose’ wasn’t smiling at the rink. I was lucky to play with him.”

Grosenick said his TI season “for sure” helped pave his path to the NHL.

“Before I agreed to play for TI, I was close to not playing anymore,” he said. “Playing for TI let me play more hockey …. and helped me get to the National Hockey League.”

He added: “If you have a passion for the game and you love it, work hard and just keep going. Keep working hard and having fun. There were plenty of times when people told me I wasn’t good enough, or that I wouldn’t make it, or I got cut from a team, but, if you have that passion and have fun playing the game, work hard at it; there’s no telling how far it can take you.”

Ross Forman
Ross Forman

Ross Forman has written about Illinois high school hockey for more than 15 years and is the only sportswriter to have covered Illinois High School hockey every year during that stretch. He played locally and then at Indiana University before becoming a referee. Ross was a referee for the State Championship game several years ago at the United Center.

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