first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ On the bus after a 6-0 victory against Rochester Institute of Technology on Saturday, Stephanie Grossi did what she does after every game: texted her parents. After talking a little bit about the contest, Grossi ended a text with the same phrase she’s been using for years.“Next, the CHA championship,” she typed.Little was discussed about the fact that Grossi had just set the all-time scoring record for Syracuse (11-17-2, 10-5-1 College Hockey America) with an assist in the second period against the Tigers. It was the 113th point of her career, one more than former teammate Melissa Piacentini and 17 more than the third-place mark, where Grossi began the season. Grossi is now the most prolific offensive player in Orange history and holds numerous records, but she couldn’t care less about any of them. She wants that elusive conference championship.Syracuse’s struggles in the CHA final are well-documented: six losses in eight years, including each of the past three. Grossi is one of five players in an Orange senior class who’ve had their seasons end in the same fashion every year of their careers. Grossi and her fellow seniors have only been thinking about finishing their careers in style.“I haven’t really focused on (setting the record),” Grossi said earlier in the season. “We’ve lost the championship three years in a row. I really want to bring that home, because finishing second for three years … it’s heartbreaking.”AdvertisementThis is placeholder textCurrently third place in the conference standings with four games remaining, Syracuse will likely be an underdog heading into the CHA playoffs. It won’t be the first obstacle this season for SU, which has faced six Top 10 teams. It’s also not new for Grossi, who grew up playing the role of the dark horse.Her parents dragged her to her brother’s hockey games when she was growing up, but she wasn’t interested in playing the sport until she was 6 years old. It was then that she first began to become more attentive to her brother’s games and professional leagues as well.“She’d listen to some of the comments in the stands,” her mother, Cheryl Grossi said. “Then she’d watch Hockey Night in Canada every Saturday night.”Kevin Camelo | Digital Design EditorWhen she was 6, Stephanie Grossi began power skating because she told her parents she wanted to be a fast skater before she started playing hockey. When she began hockey the next year, it was in a boys league. Grossi, who currently stands 5-feet, 2-inches tall, was smaller than most of her teammates and opponents. That didn’t stop her from excelling.Her coaches liked that she could think on the ice and see plays before they developed, Cheryl said. Grossi held her own because she was cerebral and anticipated what other players would do. It’s also a major part of why she’s been so consistent in her success at SU, scoring at least 30 points in each of her first three years with the Orange.“When you look at her individual skills, she’s a little bit above-average speed, she shoots the puck average,” head coach Paul Flanagan said. “For her, when she’s playing the game, it’s kind of in slow-mo. She gets it. She’s that driver in a busy intersection, she gets through it. Some of our other kids, there’s bad accidents.”Grossi never looked out of place during her career playing with boys, and once she began playing with girls at age 14, she took off. Along with a position change from defense to forward came an offensive boost as Grossi set herself apart from her competition.Her parents never considered how talented their daughter was in relation to her peers. They knew she was good, but they just went to her games to enjoy watching her play as opposed to taking stock in her play. When Grossi began playing with girls, however, her parents couldn’t get away from the fact that their daughter was special.“It was never really us that considered her good, it was everybody else telling us she was good,” said her father, Rob Grossi. “… We weren’t concentrating on her being better than anyone. Other people were telling us that.”Grossi began to receive constant attention from colleges when she was 13, so much so that her family had to keep all the recruitment letters in a binder. Most attention came from Ivy League teams and schools closer to home in Canada, but an improving hockey program and opportunity for a biochemistry degree drew Grossi to Syracuse.From the get-go, she shined for the Orange. As a freshman she led the team in assists (21) and points (30) while notching a point in eight-straight games during a pivotal conference stretch. It was apparent from her first practice that she wouldn’t back down despite her inexperience.“She’s little, but she’s feisty,” said Piacentini, who was a junior during Grossi’s debut season. “She brought that mentality to the rink that she was gonna give it her all every day.”As her Syracuse career comes to an end, Grossi has been taking everything in more so than previous years. She’s learning to enjoy it more and savoring everything that happens, on or off the ice, Cheryl said.With less than a month left in the career of one of the best players he’s ever coached, Flanagan isn’t prepared for the season to come to a close. He isn’t just losing a great player, he says, but an even better person.“She’s been our leading scorer last three years, she’s a captain and she does it all with a big smile,” Flanagan said. “She’s the heartbeat of our program in so many ways. I’m already missing her talking about her.“It’s not that often that you luck out with a player like this.”Phil Bryant | Staff PhotographerFor at least the next handful of years, Grossi’s name will be etched in Syracuse record books as one of the greatest players ever at SU. But she wants to be known for a different reason.Grossi and her fellow seniors aren’t just playing for themselves in pursuit of the CHA championship. They’re playing for the six other classes of Syracuse players who have fallen in the finals, the three now-graduated classes that played along with this year’s seniors, and every player who’s ever worn an SU jersey, Grossi said.Piacentini, who lost in the CHA final twice in her career, once told Grossi that “every time you step on the ice, you have to prove that you belong there.”Grossi’s done that. She’s a two-time first-team All-CHA player. She sits atop numerous lists in the Syracuse record book. And now, she’s the all-time leading scorer. That may seem like proving yourself and having success to most people, but not to Grossi.“If I could finish my college career with a CHA title, that’d be ideal,” she said. “If we work hard as a team and we accomplish that as a team, then individually we’ll have success.”In about two weeks, SU will play its first game of the CHA tournament at the HarborCenter in Buffalo. It’s there, almost four years after it began, that the career of Syracuse’s captain and greatest scorer of all-time will be determined, in her eyes, as a success, or a failure. Comments Published on February 13, 2018 at 10:44 pm Contact Eric: [email protected] | @esblack34last_img

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