Tuesday, October 25, 2016

By Lee Samuels

Las Vegas –  Oh, how they danced the night away. Eddie Del Grosso, the greatest hockey defenseman of our time and his lovely bride Victoria, were the stars on the ballroom floor. 

Eddie’s hockey mom Patty, who many seasons ago used to shake the cowbells when the Las Vegas Mustangs midget hockey team would score a goal, was beaming. She said the cowbells have been put away in a small corner in her garage and would return to action “….the day we are in the delivery room with Eddie and Victoria holding a new baby. That’s where and when I will shake the cowbells again.”

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And the most touching moment was when new bride Victoria did a slow dance with her father to Heartland’s classic song “….I loved her first, I held her first from the first breath she took, I was her #1, she told me so.”

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It’s not certain how many in the ballroom knew the greatness of Eddie Del Grosso. The great ones, like Eddie, never tell you how good they are. He did say he “was calm on the ice in the biggest of games. I never got nervous going into a game.”

He is 31 now, retired from the game. And knowing Eddie he will never tell Victoria about his greatest games playing for Las Vegas teams, the USHL Indiana Ice, NCAA Omaha-Nebraska and assorted pro teams including the Las Vegas Wranglers.

The hockey players at the wedding reception including Spike Neely, Shaun Stackhouse, Max Maleev and Richie Crossley said they were struck by his great play, the ability to go coast to coast with the puck, weave about, score a goal, then return to play defense.

On March 18, 2002 Eddie Del Grosso scored one of his greatest goals.

The Rob Pallin-coached AA Las Mustangs were facing the AA Alaska Jr Aces in the Pacific District Championship game in Valencia, California.

Our report on Vegashockey.com – our old site – about the closing moments of that historic game with the winner to go to the U.S. Nationals went like this…

Talk about pressure. Up one precious goal, 1:30 to play, facing a forest fire 6 on 3 attack. That’s when Las Vegas defenseman Eddie Del Grosso somehow, someway got control of the puck. He chipped a shot ceiling-high. Then he stood, cocked his helmet to watch the flight of the silent puck towards the open enemy net. The puck, on a 170-foot flight, came down, bounced hard, skittered about, went slowly into the net and the red light turned on.”

That incredible goal advanced the AA Las Vegas Mustangs midget major team to the U.S. Nationals for the very first time.

But very few in the ballroom knew about that historic goal.

And those who did probably didn’t think about it.

Maybe hockey mom Patty and a few of the older hockey folks thought about it, maybe not because it was fun and dance time.

Eddie, whose best rink pal was the late Eddie Samuels, said when he was closing out his career with the Las Vegas Wranglers when he felt “pretty lonely inside.”  That’s when he went onto a dating app, discovered the lovely, caring Victoria who made his life much more complete and meaningful.

Eddie Del Grosso is the best defenseman who every played the game in Las Vegas.

He now plays on a house hockey on a team called The Grinders at the Sobe Ice Arena once a week or so over on North Rancho Drive.

Does Eddie D play hard enough to win a house game?

“He plays maybe half-speed of what he used to be,” said cousin Richie Crossley, whose plays on a house team called Crush at the SoBe.  “But Eddie Del Grosso plays to win and he always will.”