Grossi uses smarts to establish herself as Syracuse’s top offensive threat

first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on January 22, 2015 at 12:09 am Stephanie Grossi started watching hockey when she was 4 years old.She watched NHL games on TV. Her parents dragged her to her older brother’s games. She found ways to watch Canadian college hockey, too.When she was 7, she sought to follow in her brother’s footsteps and started playing hockey herself.Two years later, a 9-year-old Grossi beat 13-year-old Michael Grossi in one-on-one.“He gets angry about it but it’s good,” she said before pausing. “He wins sometimes.”AdvertisementThis is placeholder textAfter growing up surrounded by hockey, it’s no surprise the first word many of her coaches and teammates use to describe her is “smart.” Grossi, a Syracuse freshman, entered the starting lineup in the eighth game of the season and is now the team’s starting center. She also plays on the team’s top power play unit and one of its two penalty kill lines.The center will look to continue her strong, intelligent play when SU (6-11-8, 4-3-4 College Hockey America) travels to Rochester Institute of Technology (8-14-3, 2-8-1) Friday for a 7 p.m. game.“She’s one of the smartest players I’ve ever played with,” linemate Melissa Piacentini said. “She’s crafty, she’s fast, she makes great passes, she’s always aware of her surroundings on the ice.“She’s just a great player overall.”With Grossi on the ice, Syracuse has scored 13 more goals than its opponents. Only two others boast positive margins when playing, the next highest being four by Piacentini. Nationally, Grossi ranks sixth in points scored and fourth in assists among freshmen. For the Orange, she also leads the team in points, assists and shots.She always seems to be around the puck, making plays for Syracuse. In the scrum of flying sticks, sliding pucks and changing lines, spectators almost always notice when Grossi is on the ice.“The separation from our kids that are making plays and certainly Steph, the separation is kind of scary,” head coach Paul Flanagan said.Flanagan compared Grossi’s intelligence to that of Tom Brady and Russell Wilson, the two starting quarterbacks for this year’s Super Bowl. The way they read defenses, he said, is comparable to how Grossi sees the ice and finds openings.Grossi has committed only three penalties in 25 games, another testament to her smart play.“She knows where to go to get the puck,” freshman and linemate Alysha Burriss said. “She knows where somebody else is going to be; she’s good at that — reading it.”Burriss and Grossi live near each other at SU and are constantly talking hockey, Burriss said. Grossi pushes Burriss not only with her play during games and practice, but also in how she carries herself in her life.Grossi is dairy- and gluten-free, Burriss said, and cooks herself dinner nearly every night. A typical meal is a big salad and chicken.“She eats so healthy, it’s ridiculous,” Burriss said. “It kind of makes me mad sometimes because I don’t eat like that.”At 5 feet 2 inches, Grossi is the shortest player on Syracuse. Despite her stature, bigger, stronger players can’t bully her on the ice, Flanagan said, because of her intelligence.She sees plays develop before they happen, allowing her to stay out of overly physical situations, Flanagan said. Or, she uses her small size to get away from a bigger player.“I think it’s just her knowledge of the game,” Piacentini said. “She’s got this sense to her that you can’t really gain it, you have to be born with it … She’s gifted.” Commentslast_img