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Grimaldi Aims To Make Most Of NHL Opportunity

The forward scored his first Avs goal on Saturday after being recalled along with Andrew Agozzino

by Callie Parmele / ColoradoAvalanche.com

Forward Rocco Grimaldi helped the San Antonio Rampage skate to a 3-1 victory last Friday, but the highlight of his night might have been the call that came after the game -- he was being recalled to the NHL by the Colorado Avalanche.

"We found out right after the game," Grimaldi said. "Got home, it was a 7:30 game, so we got home pretty late, and then I had to pack and figure out what I need to bring. It was crazy."

The forward, along with teammate Andrew Agozzino, was recalled after the Avalanche placed Gabriel Bourque (upper body) and Colin Wilson (hip) on injured reserve following Colorado's contest at the Vegas Golden Knights on Friday.

Just a few hours after Grimaldi landed in Denver on Saturday, Grimaldi recorded a goal and an assist in the Avs' 6-3 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks.

Grimaldi's first goal with the Avalanche was the culmination of a week that was a rollercoaster ride of emotions, as he learned his grandfather passed away a few days earlier.

Growing up in Anaheim, CA, Grimaldi's grandfather played a key role in him playing hockey in a non-traditional market.

"I am playing with a heavy heart, I just lost my grandpa this week," he said after the game, fighting back tears. "He was one who always brought his lunch box to the early morning road hockey games, and supported me my whole life. I just got that news a few days ago. When I got the call I knew I was going to come up and play the best I could for him."

Video: CHI@COL: Grimaldi tips home Johnson's heavy drive

Upon arriving to Pepsi Center on Saturday evening, he was not sure if he would play in the game but was pleasantly surprised to see his number on the board on a line with Matt Duchene and Sven Andrighetto.

"I didn't know what to expect, I didn't even know if I was going to play. I didn't know if guys were hurt or not hurt," he said. "I was just happy to see my number on the board and then seeing it with those two guys makes it pretty nice and makes it simple for me.

"I just got to use my legs and give them space and let them do their work, and I will go to the net and hound pucks. It's easy playing with guys when they play like that."

The trio quickly established some chemistry and found the scoresheet. The line combined for four points (two goals, two assists) on the night, with Grimaldi potting the second marker for the line.

"It's a good confidence booster for sure. I thought we did a pretty good job during the game," Grimaldi said of his marker. "Our team was rolling well and got off to a pretty quick 5-0 lead against one of the best teams in the league. E.J. got a puck through, and I happened to just get a stick on it. It's a good confidence booster, obviously a 6-3 game it's not a huge, huge goal but it was nice to have it."

Video: Rocco Grimaldi returns to the Avalanche

Grimaldi was drafted by the Florida Panthers in the second round (33rd overall) of the 2011 NHL Draft and had skated in 31 NHL games prior to Saturday's contest. However, it was just the second time in his career that his wife was in the stands cheering him on during an NHL contest.

"She was debating Friday if she was going to go or not, I said 'Just come,'" Grimaldi said. "That is only her second game that she has seen me play in the NHL. She saw my first NHL game like four years ago, and she hasn't seen one since. A lot of AHL games but not in the NHL. It was nice to have her here."

To give her more opportunities to see him play in Colorado, Grimaldi noted he wants to stay even-keeled and try not to scrutinize what he needs to do to extend his stint with the NHL club.

"I am taking it a day at a time. When I start trying to think about how long I am going to be here and what you have to do to stay, things kind of get crazy," he said. "You want guys to get healthy, so you just got to play your best when you have a chance and hope to make the most of the opportunity."

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