News Business Sports Entertainment Life Obituaries Opinion
Jobs Homes Cars Classifieds Shopping

Search PB Blogs

Loading

Categories

November 26, 2015

Boys hockey: Looking back on Lorne Grosso's 5 decades at Mayo

Posted by: Feldman

What's everyone thankful for this year? Me? Definitely thankful for waking up with my 4-year-old's head on my shoulder today. Health, family, all that good stuff that. As Peter Griffen would say, it make a da world go around.

Greetings and Happy Thanksgiving from casa de Feldman, where as I type I cannot unsee a bunch of dudes who look a lot like me (40s, a little overweight) doing some disco dancing in short shorts and long socks on the Macy's T'giving Day Parade. I'm thankful that that is now over.

More to be thankful for: I feel fortunate to have been able to cover Rochester Mayo hockey for the past decade and to have gotten to know Lorne Grosso. He has been the Spartans head coach since Mayo High School opened in 1966. As Mayo A.D. Jeff Whitney -- who played for Grosso and later coached with him -- put it, "he's an icon. I can't imagine what Mayo hockey will look like without him."

We'll find out next winter. 

 

As we reported two weeks ago, Grosso will retire at the end of this season, whenever that comes for Mayo. He'll retire with the most wins in Minnesota for a hockey coach. He has 694 right now; Mayo's next 'W' will put him in a tie for 2nd all-time in the United States with former Arlington, Mass., coach Edward Burns. The all-time record belongs to Bill Belisle of Mt. St. Charles Academy in Woonsocket, R.I. He has an astounding 974 victories and, I believe something like 28 state championships.

As I re-read that story from two weeks ago, I realized there was so much more about Grosso's story that needs to be told. I literally could write a book about his life. I wrote two more stories for today's P-B, which I'll link to below (or, y'know, swing out to your local convenience store and pick one up. Seriously, today's paper weighs more than 4 pounds. You can not only read about a legendary hockey coach, but you can get all the Black Friday sales fliers, too. What a deal. (OK, sales pitch over).

Like I was saying, there is so much more to Grosso than even the stories we've had on him recently can explain. I didn't even scratch the surface of who he is; the volunteer work he does through his church, with patients at Mayo Clinic, his passions for music and cooking (Italian food of course), the health problems he had a few years ago, and of course, his family. He and his backbone -- his wife, Joni -- have two daughters, a son, seven grandkids and six (soon to be seven) great-grandchildren. 

I talked to nine people for today's articles and could have called a few dozen more. I had difficulty fitting comments from all of them into the stories. They all had so many good stories to tell, like former Mayo player and former JM and Century head coach Bruce Frutiger, who told a story about how after a particularly uninspiring effort in a victory by a Mayo team he played on, they didn't see a single puck hit the ice at the next day's practice. "Oh, my, did we skate," Frutiger said with a laugh. "Skating was one thing I could do well, but I wanted to make sure I wasn't finishing last ... I remember hobbling back to the locker room after that practice."

I thought I'd dig up some links to some of the stories we've written about Lorne over the years. I'm sure there have been more than these (our digital archives only go back to roughly the late 1990s), but here are some that I found and enjoyed reading again. 

Frankly, I can't imagine doing anything with the same level of passion and enthusiam for 50 years (except maybe for breathing and being a parent). Grosso has done it since 1966 and as his wife, Joni, said, "He would probably do it for at least another 10 years." And the thing that has always struck me about Grosso -- and is likely the main reason he has been able to stay around for 50 years -- is that, win or lose, no matter the situation, he is always the same -- respectful, thoughtful, calm, even though, as many of his friends and colleagues told me, he's a fierce competitor, it just doesn't show externally. The lessons he taught his players -- be respectful of opponents, officials, teammates, and carry yourself with class, the way you act and dress on game days, etc. -- were designed to make them better people as much as better hockey players. 

That's probably the ultimate compliment Lorne can be paid: He taught his students and players as much about how to be good people as good students/athletes.

LOOKING BACK ON GROSSO'S CAREER

NOV. 26, 2015: Grosso has impacted many lives in five decades at Mayo

A flashback to 1966, what was the U.S. like when Grosso took over at Mayo?

Grosso a math-ter teacher and coach

NOV. 13, 2015: Grosso announces retirement from coaching hockey

FEB. 3, 2015: Neil McCormack retiring after 49 years of coaching at Mayo (McCormack and Grosso both started at Mayo when it opened in 1966 and now are retiring from their last coaching stints just a year apart)

MARCH 4, 2014: Friends, coaches, former linemates Grosso, Nystrom inducted into MHCA Hall of Fame

DEC. 28, 2013: Mayo notches historic victory vs. JM at Kiwanis Festival (Mayo's win in this game marked the first time EVER the Spartans had led the all-time series against their oldest rivals. Read Grosso's quote about it; it's classic Grosso humor, and the way he'd usually start every conversation we've had).

APRIL 30, 2013: Grosso presented with Mariucci Award (This was a big honor for Grosso. He was very proud, being presented an award named after his college head coach, and an award that is presented to a coach who exemplifies dedication and enthusiasm)

JULY 9, 2012: When I wrote that he and Joni love their grandkids and great-grandkids, it's definitely the truth. Here's a story by Donny Henn about Lorne and Joni's grandson, Matt, living with them while he played for the Rochester Honkers.

JAN. 20, 2012: A history of the JM-Mayo rivalry. It'll be different next year without Grosso on the Mayo bench.

NOV. 28, 2011: Grosso had a big-time health scare at age 69, when he underwent a quadruple bypass heart surgery.

JAN. 17, 2011: Grosso a teacher first, coach second (this is part of the story that ran when he broke Willard Ikola's record for coaching victories in Minnesota. The story was split up when it was placed in the paper and I can't track down the other part ... but here's some of it)

DEC. 8, 2010: Grosso closing in on Ikola's record

APRIL 21, 2009: Grosso among 3 inducted in Rochester QB Club HOF

FEB. 16, 2009: Mayo gives Grosso career win No. 600 and 600 and counting

NOV. 26, 2003: Hockey, heritage run deep for Grosso

JUNE 9, 1999: "Peace be with you, Mr. Grosso" (Grosso retires from teaching at Mayo)

November 19, 2015

PHERSY AND FATIS SHOW: Blizzard incoming edition

PHERSY: The Phersy and Fatis Show returns today as I sit down with Ice Hawks coach Nick Fatis to wrap up last weekend's split with the La Crosse Freeze. We also break down this weekend's home-and-away series against the Alexandria Blizzard.

The Ice Hawks are at home at 7:05 p.m. Friday and in Alexandria at 7:10 p.m. on Saturday.

Enjoy the show!

November 12, 2015

PIGSKIN PODCAST: Prep Bowl Edition

PHERSY: Time for the final Pigskin Podcast of the season! Feldy has officially lost the pick'em, by a large margin. Many people I must thank for my big victory ... you'll have to watch the show to hear my tear-jerking speech.

I'd say Feldy and I will probably take a week off from the podcast, and then we'll return with the audio version of the podcast ... more of a variety show, featuring area sports. We'll keep you posted.

Thanks to everyone who watched this season.

PHERSY AND FATIS SHOW: Back on track edition

PHERSY: After a week off, the show returns today as I sit down with Ice Hawks coach Nick Fatis to talk about last weekend's games and the games coming up this weekend. 

The Ice Hawks are on the road Friday and at home Saturday against the La Crosse Freeze.

Enjoy!

October 29, 2015

PIGSKIN PODCAST: On location in Stewartville

PHERSY: Pigskin Podcast is back, and it's time for the state quarterfinals. Feldy and I drove south on Wednesday to record this episode in Stewartville.

Enjoy the show!

PHERSY AND FATIS SHOW: It's Breezy in here edition

PHERSY: Welcome back to the Phersy and Fatis Show. Once again I sit down with Ice Hawks coach Nick Fatis to chat about last weekend's game against North Iowa and to look ahead at this weekend's series against Breezy Point.

The Ice Hawks are home at 7:05 p.m. Friday and on the road Saturday night.

Enjoy the show!

 

October 22, 2015

PHERSY AND FATIS SHOW: Welcoming the champs edition

PHERSY: Welcome back to another edition of the Phersy and Fatis Show. I sat down today with Ice Hawks coach Nick Fatis to talk about last weekend's setback against the Minnesota Flying Aces and the upcoming game against the defending national champion North Iowa Bulls. That game is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. Saturday at the Rochester Recreation Center.

Enjoy the show!

 

October 15, 2015

PHERSY AND FATIS SHOW: NA3HL sweep edition

PHERSY: I sat down with Ice Hawks coach Nick Fatis today for the latest edition of the Phersy and Fatis Show.

The Ice Hawks are coming off their first NA3HL sweep, taking three from Chicago over the weekend. They return HOME at 7:05 p.m. Saturday against the Minnesota Flying Aces. And the game will be at the newly renovated Rochester Recreation Center! Get pumped!

Enjoy the show.

 

October 13, 2015

PIGSKIN PODCAST: Section quarterfinals edition

PHERSY: The new Pigskin Podcast is out! This week we are very focused on high school football, including breaking down section quarterfinal matchups, offering up our players of the week and making our HS football picks (ask Feldy who's leading). 

Enjoy the show!

 

October 09, 2015

Bear Tracks | A Robby Cup rematch

Posted by: Feldman

Feels like yesterday we were sitting in Riverside Arena in Austin, watching the longest game in North American Hockey League history. But that 4-overtime marathon in Game 1 of last year's Robertson Cup Finals doesn't mean much to a majority of the players who will be on the Riverside ice tonight.

For the first time since the Minnesota Wilderness swept the Austin Bruins in the best-of-3 2015 Robertson Cup Finals, the teams will meet, at 7:05 tonight in Austin and 7:30 p.m. tomorrow in Cloquet. 

So much is new on both sides: The entire coaching staff and all but four players for Austin weren't around back in May for the team's second consecutive appearance in the Finals. The Wilderness have a slight edge in returning players, with six guys back who were on their Robby Cup roster, and, of course, head coach Corey Millen is also back.

One thing hasn't changed for Austin under first-year head coach Kyle Grabowski and assistants Keenan Kelly and Brad Clayton: The Bs enter this series in a tie for first place in the NAHL Central Division. Austin (5-3-0, 10 points) is tied with Minot (4-1-2, 10 points) after the Bruins swept a home-and-home against division rival Brookings last weekend.

The Wilderness are 4-3-1 overall, but 4-1-1 since dropping their first two games of the season. 

Here's a look at this weekend's series:

AUSTIN BRUINS vs./at MINNESOTA WILDERNESS

When, where: 7:05 p.m. tonight, Riverside Arena, Austin; 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Northwoods Credit Union Arena, Cloquet

Records: Wilderness 4-3-1 (9 points; 3rd, Midwest Division); Austin 5-3-0 (10 points; T-1st, Central Division)

Recent history: This weekend's games are the first two of four between the teams this season. They'll play again at Austin on Dec. 18 and at Cloquet on Jan. 7. ... The Wilderness swept the Bruins, 2-0, in the NAHL Robertson Cup Finals last season. The Wilderness were 5-2-3 against the Bruins in 2014-15; Austin was 5-4-1.

Coaches: Wilderness, Corey Millen (3rd season, 92-37-16 overall); Austin, Kyle Grabowski (1st season, 5-3-0).

Wilderness scoring leaders: F Jacob Hamacher, 5-7, 156 (2-5--7); F Tyler Cline, 5-9, 180 (2-5--7); F Koby Bender, 6-1, 196 (4-2--6); D Tyler Vold, 5-10, 167 (1-5--6).

Wilderness goalie leaders: Chase Munroe, 6-4, 216 (4-1-1, 2.00, .921); Dyllan Lubbesmeyer 5-11, 177 (0-2-0, 4.62, .809).

Bruins scoring leaders: F Jade Miller, 5-9, 180 (7-3--10); F Justin Misiak, 5-10, 170 (3-6--9); F Gilbert Gabor, 6-4, 220 (1-7--8); F Dawson DiPietro, 5-11, 170 (3-3--6).

Bruins goalie leaders: Kris Carlson, 6-2, 180 (3-1-0, 2.50, .919); Austin Smith, 6-2, 170 (2-1-0, 2.01, .909, 1 SO).

Weekend notes: Bruins goalie Kris Carlson is the reigning NAHL Central Division Star of the Week. He started and played all of both games against Brookings, stopping a total of 51 of 55 shots he faced. He made 24 saves in a 4-1 win Friday, then followed with 27 saves in a 6-3 win on Saturday in the Bs home opener. ... Bruins forward Dawson DiPietro had a goal in both games last weekend, including the game winner on Friday, and has five points in his past three games. ... Bs defenseman Will Riedell recorded his first multi-point game with Austin, notching two assists in Saturday's win. ... F Justin Misiak is second on the team in scoring, with nine points. He had a goal and two assists in Saturday's victory. ... Wilderness goalie Chase Munroe hasn't allowed more than two goals in any of his last six appearances. ... Forwards Koby Bender (4-2--6) and Ryan Bloom (4-1--5) are the only Wilderness players with more than two goals this season.  Thirteen players have scored at least once for Minnesota.

--------

NAHL CENTRAL DIVISION STANDINGS

TEAM ... W-L-OTL ... Pts.
Austin ... 5-3-0 ... 10
Minot ... 4-1-2 ... 10
Aberdeen ... 4-2-0 ... 8
Brookings ... 4-4-0 ... 8
Bismarck ... 2-5-0 ... 4
Mn Magicians ... 2-4-0 ... 4

--------

BLAST FROM THE PAST

Every week, we'll spotlight a former Bruin or Bruins who have gone on to play at the college or pro level. This week's Blast is:

CODY DIXON, D, 2012-13

With the Bs: Dixon was traded to the Bruins early in the 2012-13 season from the Springfield Jr. Blues and he became Austin's top offensive defensman. Dixon finished his season with 16-28--44 in 64 total NAHL games, including six games with Springfield and eight playoff games with the Bs.

Where is he now?: The Hales Corner, Wis., native turned 23 on Sept. 30. He spent the 2013-14 season with NCAA Division III University of Massachusetts-Boston, where scored five goals and had eight total points. He transferred closer to home last season, to Concorida University-Wisconsin, also a D-3 school. CUW is in Mequon, a northern suburb of Milwaukee. He played in 25 games for CUW last season and recorded 14 points, the fifth-most by a defenseman in team history. He'll be a junior for the Falcons this winter and wears No. 63.