Ice Hockey

After escape to Hawaii, Syracuse’s Stephanie Grossi doubles point total

Leigh Ann Rodgers | Staff Photographer

Grossi has thrived in the month following her island getaway, doubling her point total to 22 from 11 in eight games.

Over Winter Break, Stephanie Grossi ran underneath the Hawaiian sun. She rid her mind of hockey while performing hill sprints along the paradise on the Pacific Ocean. Grossi kept the cold confines of Tennity Ice Pavilion out of her thoughts.

The junior ran up the hills to forget about her mediocre start to the season. She had only 11 points in SU’s first 18 games this season. Through 18 games last year, she already had 22 points.

Grossi felt re-energized. She’s since thrived in the month following her island getaway, doubling her point total to 22 from 11 in eight games. Grossi is the prolific scorer that Syracuse (10-11-5, 9-3-2 College Hockey America) needs if it wishes to capture its first-ever CHA title.

The forward’s torrid start in 2017 led to her CHA Player of the Month honors, as she scored five goals and assisted on six others. For six straight contests, she contributed at least one point a game. The game in which she didn’t score or assist was SU’s only conference loss this calendar year.

“Sometimes I think too much out there,” Grossi said. “When I’m just going with the flow and not really thinking, it comes natural and it works better.”

Her overthinking on offense stemmed from below average defensive performances. In the beginning of the season, she watched SU’s opponents score and defeat the Orange, even while she was on the ice.

With the pressure of SU locked in its own defensive end, Grossi forced the puck in the offensive zone and tried to skate through multiple defenders. But often she turned over the puck in attempts to kick-start a stagnant Orange offense.

“She’s a perfectionist in everything she does,” SU head coach Paul Flanagan said. “She was probably putting a lot of pressure on herself, and I think lately she’s playing more relaxed.”

Grossi has since relieved herself of the burden of being the No. 1 option for the Orange, a title passed on to her by the all-time leading scorer Melissa Piacentini. Her success came when she began to play off her linemates Emily Costales and Savannah Rennie.

In the second period of SU’s 5-1 victory over Robert Morris on Jan. 28, Costales controlled the puck in SU’s defensive zone and looked for her streaking teammate. As Grossi flashed across center ice, she received the puck and saw two defenders in her way and simply burned by them.

“Honestly,” Costales said. “I saw her so I just moved it and it was great. She had the puck brought it down and did what she does best.”

Grossi, the smallest of the three forwards at 5-foot-2, went back to annoying defenders with her quickness, something she had refined in years prior. Costales and Rennie, who rank second and seventh in points respectively, occupied the space near the boards and used their size to keep the puck in the offensive zone. This formula proved successful as SU defeated then-No. 7 RMU to pull within two points of the division lead.

Syracuse will look to Grossi for offense as the postseason nears. If the junior forward builds off her strong January, the Orange should be one of the most dangerous teams in the conference.

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