Chase is on the case
Chase Grsic wasn’t going to take no for an answer in his quest to crack the roster of the Thorold Blackhawks.
“I wanted to make the team and get a feel for it and see where I place,” the rookie backstop said. “I wanted to play at a higher level and see what I could do and give it a try.”
Grsic was one of five 16-year-olds in camp competing for a back-up spot behind incumbent Anthony Tremonte.
“As the tryouts progressed, he was the guy we liked the best,” Hawks coach Scott Barnes said. “I was a bit familiar with him. We weren’t looking to take a 16-year-old goalie, but we started looking at our needs and where we were and he fit the mold.
“We had some guys who were drafted pretty high who OHL teams were trying to get us to take. Chase wasn’t drafted, but he outplayed them all.”
Barnes feels the sky in the limit for the 6-foot-4 backstop.
“He has good size and I think potential and he’s got a lot of potential,” he said. “He could really go somewhere in the game of hockey with his size and ability.
“I think he’s going to go pretty far.”
Grsic, a native of Hamilton who played minor midget AAA with the Bulldogs last season, admits it’s a big jump to junior.
“It was pretty tough. It took some adjusting,” said Grsic, a Grade 11 student at Cardinal Newman. “(It’s also) the speed of the game and their puck smarts and the way they pass and shoot the puck quicker.”
Barnes did struggle for a time with the idea of keeping a 16-year-old as a backup.
“It’s not something I ever really envisioned doing. I wanted to work both sides. I wanted him to make the decision,” Barnes said. “He could have went to midget and been a star and play a lot but (I told him) that here you’re going to be in a backup role and I can’t promise you a ton of games.
“He’s facing some real good shots in practice and he will get some games.”
Grsic got his baptism of fire early, playing in the first two games of the season while Tremonte was nursing a minor injury.
He won both those starts, kicking out 61 shots in the process.
“It felt to good to get two wins. It brought my confidence up and made feel like I could do it,” he said.
Barnes was happy to be able to get Grsic into a game right off the bat.
“To get two early games to start the year was really good for us too because we knew we had a guy we could trust,” Barnes said.
Grsic got a taste for goaltender when he donned the pads as a 10-year-old.
“I played one game when we needed a goalie and loved it ever since,” he said.
The Blackhawks fell to 2-4 with a 4-3 loss to Fort Erie Thursday in Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League action at the Thorold Arena.
The Hawks led 3-2 before the Meteors rallied with a pair of late goals.
Evan Miller scored twice for the winners while Drew Passero and Michael Fazio added singles. It was Fort Erie’s first win of the season.
Dylan Latty, Austin Jensen and Owen Allan replied for the Hawks.
Thorold was missing injured defencemen Patrick McCluskey and Devon Thibodeau along with forward Cam Lightfoot.
The Hawks are at Hamilton Monday and home to Niagara Falls next Thursday.
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