Photo by Rena Laverty
Grant Mismash didn’t know quite what to expect when he decided to pack his bags and move to Michigan to continue his hockey career.
Thus far, his experience with the USA Hockey National Team Development Program has been exactly what Mismash has needed to advance his development.
“My maturity has been the biggest difference between last year and this year,” explained Mismash, the Edina, Minnesota, native. “My growth as a person is a big change. The training at the NTDP really helps you mature from a boy into a man, especially in the weight room. The training defines you physically — it makes your bigger, faster and stronger.”
Mismash currently ranks second on the Under-18 squad in scoring with 21 goals and 38 points, production due in part to a simple message from current head coach John Wroblewski for this season.
“He wants us to keep the game simple,” Mismash summarized. “He wants us to play with a competitive edge and be consistent [in our play]. He is competitive and he expects a lot out of us. He wants us to be a mature player and person, both on and off the ice.
“One of the good things is that Coach Wrobo knows what we are going through right now. He has been there along with Coach Moore. They know the experiences we are going through. It good to know they have those credits. They have been able to tell us what to expect. It’s cool to have someone who was here as a player and has been through it, and now is our coach.”
Mismash and his U18 teammates are coming off a first-place showing at the Five Nations Tournament in Sweden in early February. Mismash credits the experiences from last year as a big reason for the team’s success in international play to date.
“The transition from last year to this year has made a big difference in international play,” explained Mismash. “This year, we expected a lot out of us and need to play hard in each game especially since we didn’t do as well as we wanted last year. No matter who we are playing, we need to represent and we have gotten two wins this year. Now, we need to get the third one in April.”
He has two favorite games from the Five Nations Tournament, both of which stick out to him for different reasons.
“The Russian game, which was a 5-3 win on Feb. 11. It is always a big one when we play each other,” said Mismash. “We wanted to bring it all and leave it all on the ice which is what we did.
“The Sweden game was fun too [a 5-4 overtime win the following day]. We tied it in the final three seconds and then, we won in a shootout. They beat us in November at our own tournament so it was nice to be able to beat them on their soil.”
One thing that never changes is the pride that Mismash feels when he is on the ice, especially in international play.
“It’s an amplified role that we are put in even more in international play,” he explained. “We are playing countries that are in our same shoes and we all want to do our best when we represent. I think it’s a more intense game and we’re eager to pull it out.
“It’s really special to hear the U.S. national anthem after games. It’s great to see the flag being raised. It’s hard not be patriotic when you hear the national anthem.”
Mismash and his U18 teammates will host Arizona State in a two-game set this weekend (Feb. 24-25) at USA Hockey Arena. It’s a special event for him.
“It’s special to be able to play ASU this weekend,” he stated. “It’s good to be at home and for our fans to see college hockey at USA Arena. We can show people in Plymouth, just how special it is and that is a big deal for us.”
The college competition has been a new twist this year for Mismash; however, he knows how beneficial it is in terms of his development.
“It’s a rough patch but it’s an experience that every U18 team has been through,” he remarked. “It’s something that you try your hardest every night. It will definitely help in the transition next year. We are getting used to playing against bigger, older and stronger players. It will be good have these games under our belt when we go to college next year. It’s been great for our maturity.”
It should be no surprise that he has already picked out a few special college games that stand out to him. The two he cited both involved his home state.
“Our first college win over Minnesota-Duluth [a 2-1 victory on Oct. 22],” he pointed out first. “They have been highly ranked team all season. It was great to beat that caliber team for our first college win.
“It was a great experience to play at the University of Minnesota where I got to play in front of my family and friends. I grew up watching the Gophers so it was surreal to play at Mariucci Arena, even though we lost the game.”
When it came time for Mismash to select his future college team, he took his time and made the best choice for him — the University of North Dakota.
“It was a hard choice to make. At the end of the day, I toured several places and North Dakota felt like home,” he stated. “I felt more comfortable there. The facility is incredible and the coaching staff is great. It has a small-town feel which I really liked especially after playing [high school hockey] at Shattuck-St. Mary’s and for USA Hockey.”
For now, he is focused on the final step – the IIHF Men’s World Under-18 Championship in Slovakia in April. It’s the simple things he and his teammates need to execute to be successful.
“We came back from the tournament in Sweden, and we have to regroup and get back into the grind,” he stated. “We have to get back to work, whether it’s lifting or practice and be ready to complete. It’s business time for the rest of the year. We need to do our part to gear up and be ready for April.”
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.
Photo by Rena Laverty
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