Forward Patrick Grasso and defenseman Joe Masonius have quietly made a name for themselves just three weeks into the season. Both Grasso and Masonius signed AHL/ECHL player deals in the month of July, just seven days apart from each other. Both have way different paths of getting to the professional game and how they found their way to the Adirondack Thunder.
Grasso signed straight of college after wrapping up his career at the University of New Hampshire. Grasso was a two time-assistant captain and played in 138 career games with UNH posting 49 goals and 48 assists. He won the 2021 Hockey East Len Ceglarski Individual Sportsmanship Award and was a member of the 2016-17 Hockey East All-Rookie Team.
Meanwhile Masonius, latched on to the ECHL after finishing four years for the University of Connecticut. The 24-year-old was drafted in the 6th round of the 2016 NHL entry draft at #181 overall by the Pittsburgh Penguins but ultimately decided not to sign heading back to school. The 24-year-old has bounced around the ECHL with the likes of teams of the South Carolina Stingrays, Manchester Monarchs, Norfolk Admirals, Greenville Swamp Rabbits but then skating in nine games for the Macon Mayhem of the SPHL before earning himself an AHL contract with the Utica Comets. The 6-0, 190 pounder is making the most of his journey here with Adirondack here too.
Masonius has talked about team chemistry ever since the start of training camp on October 11th, but he thinks it was the team’s best so far this season after a 5-4 win over the Mountain leading Utah Grizzles.
“I think that we had a hot start, obviously they came and pushed back, we had some good fight and good resilience from this group, everybody has their backs and that’s huge and moving forward, going through the ups and downs and when you are able to battle together, and stay positive that’s the best experience you can get”.
Masonius is currently tied with other defenseman Blake Thompson for six points this season. Both have had power-play time together, taking turns quarterbacking that position.
“I’m obviously always a big competitor, I like to think it’s one of my best attributes, I’m here to entertain and I have a moment to take advantage of that and give my team energy and the crowd around us energy I’m going to take advantage of that”.
For the Thunder their win on Friday night against a 1st place team, they know that they can be competitors in their very own North Division and for Masonius he says the team has found it’s groove and are ready to show the rest of the ECHL, including the mid-west when Adirondack plays another three games in three days in Boise Idaho.
“I know that in this locker room we can do it, Sunday (In Newfoundland, a 5-0 loss). Wasn’t the best showing, I think that we know we have to put a better product out there on a Sunday night, coming back home, beating a division leader, it’s huge”.
Grasso in the forward department, collected two more goals in route to victory in the first game of the weekend. Grasso thinks that’s the best period of Thunder hockey they have played all year six games in, early on in this season.
“I think we jumped on them, that was our game plan from the start, it’s a long road-trip for them (Utah), we know that goes, last weekend, it’s hard to make a flight and then jump into a game so we tried to have a quick start and I thought we did a good job”.
He currently has seven points in seven games, for his rookie season. Three goals and four assists. Grasso has been paired with Nick Rivera and Tyler Irvine all season long if it’s not broke than don’t fix it. His line mates have contributed to his success, Irvine with seven points (two goals, three assists) and Nick Rivera with four goals.
“Here we take the attitude of faceless opponent, one game at a time, but it’s nice to not play the same opponent every night, it’s a big test for us to play across division and something we’re excited about, our goal is to win all three this weekend and you can’t do that if you don’t win the first one right? So, it was a great start, but we put this win behind us and focus on the next two games”.
As to what to expect for the rest of the weekend, Alex Loh says that Brandon Kasel has worked his tail off and deserves to be backing up either Mitens or Sakellaropoulos.
“He’s been working as hard as he can in practice, went to camp and Utica worked really hard up there, something that we’re thrilled to have him while we do, it’s an acknowledgment for him to throw the jersey on and be part of things moving forward”.
Head Coach Alex Loh also didn’t rule him out starting either.
“I’m going to talk it over with Pete and the other coaches and get a sense on what the thought process Is going forward”.