THE BEST DEFENSEMAN – EDDIE DEL GROSSO OF LAS VEGAS
By Lee Samuels
Eddie Del Grosso is unquestionably the best ever defenseman in Las Vegas. He won by a landslide of votes over a big field of the greatest defenseman who have ever played the game here in town. Eddie, a dynamic player who had tremendous offensive skills, won many awards on every level of the game he played.
Eddie, 31, said it was hockey coach Rob Pallin who switched him to defense when he was a young teenager. Eddie then became a star hometown defenseman on coach Rob’s early teams – the 2000-2001 AA Las Vegas Mustangs followed by the 2001-02 Mustangs who were the first from Las Vegas to play in the U.S. Nationals.
“I was a forward up to the age of 14 when coach Rob said defense would be perfect for me. In my first year of midget level hockey I had an unbelievable year. I just loved playing defense as you have more control of the game. I like seeing the game in front of me. My first defensive partners in those big midget level games were Chris Anderson and Justin Johnson.”
Pallin, who is now coaching HC TWK Innsbruck in the Austrian Hockey League, said Del Grosso had “an amazing skill set and I knew playing defense would be a better fit for him.”
Eddie D scored many game-breaking goals as a defensemen the same way he did on the junior level with the USHL Indiana Ice and later as a star defenseman with Nebraska Omaha where he set scoring records. Eddie said his all-time defensive partner was Marc Bernier at Nebraska-Omaha.
“We just had good chemistry on the ice. We always knew what the other was thinking,” Eddie said.
Eddie was named to the CCHA All Rookie team, then a year later to the All CCHA Team.
He skated in the NHL Washington Capitals developmental camp as well.
When Eddie played for the USHL Indiana Ice he was an awesome playmaker and goal scorer on powerplays. Lincoln Stars coach Steve Johnson used to keep a defenseman “right on Del Grosso” when the Stars were on penalty kills. Still, Del Grosso found room to skate, pass and score – and he did all of this in sold out arenas throughout the USA and later in Europe.
Eddie and Eddie Samuels of Las Vegas were best friends on and off the ice, first with the AA Las Vegas Mustangs, then with the AAA San Diego Jr Gulls who were coached by Rob Neumann.
Eddie Del Grosso was a star player for the AA Las Vegas Mustangs, AA Las Vegas Rebels, AAA Las Vegas Outlaws – all coached by Pallin. Eddie was recruited initially by Ohio State but accepted a scholarship to the University of Nebraska where he was on the All Rookie CCHA team in his first season of collegiate hockey.
Eddie’s longtime Las Vegas teammate Adam Naglich skated for Alaska-Fairbanks University and said Eddie was “unstoppable as a offensive-type defensemen.”
Eddie Del Grosso played in Europe for two seasons, then returned home to close out his career with the ECHL Las Vegas Wranglers.
EDDIE DEL GROSSO
2000-01 AA Las Vegas Mustangs 15 goals, 15 assists
2001-02 AA Las Vegas Mustangs 24 goals, 26 assists
2002-03 AAA Las Vegas Outlaws 26 goals, 33 assists
2003-04 AAA San Diego Jr Gulls 15 goals, 7 assists
2003-04 AAA Cal Senators 24 goals, 20 assists
2004-05 USHL Indiana Ice 15 goals, 22 assists
2005-06 USHL Indiana Ice 19 goals, 29 assists
2006-07 Nebraska-Omaha 4 goals, 17 assists
2007-08 Nebraska-Omaha 7 goals, 17 assists
2008-09 Nebraska-Omaha 6 goals, 28 assists
2009-10 Nebraska-Omaha 7 goals, 23 assists
2009-10 AHL Springfield Falcons 0 goals, 2 assists
2010-11 ECHL Las Vegas Wranglers 3 goals, 8 assists
2011-12 ECHL Las Vegas Wranglers 0 goals, 0 assists
2013-14 ECHL Las Vegas Wranglers 3 goals, 9 assists
Richie Crossley and Devin Lane were awesome together on an AA Las Vegas Ice Cats 18u team which was coached by Eddie Samuels, then Matt Stang.
Crossley and Lane were voted as the Best Defensive Pair.
“This is quite a honor. No matter how big the game was we had a lot of confidence in each other while on the ice. It worked out great for the two of us,” said Richie.
ALL TIME LAS DEFENSEMEN VOTED BY READERS ON VEGASHOCKEY.NET
EDDIE DEL GROSSO – USHL INDIANA ICE, NEBRASKA-OMAHA UNIVERSITY
ALL TIME HOMETOWN DEFENSIVE PAIR
RICHIE CROSSLEY – DEVIN LANE – AA LAS VEGAS ICE CATS
FIRST TEAM – ALL TIME DEFENSEMEN
MICHAEL CHIASSON – MICHIGAN
JUSTIN JOHNSON – BCHL VICTORIA SALSA
CONNOR HANEY – CAPTAIN WSHL SEATTLE JR TOTEMS
ROSS MCMULLAN – ST LAWRENCE UNIVERSITY
CHRIS RIAL – NAHL WICHITA WILDCATS, NAHL KENAI RIVER BROWN BEARS, NCAA ST. NORBERT
RYAN CHIASSON – NAHL CORPUS CHRISTI, USHL DUBUQUE FIGHTING SAINTS, NAHL WENATCHEE WILD
MIKE TRIMBOLI – UTAH STATE
JOE TRIMBOLI – NEW ENGLAND UNIVERSITY
JOEY RAATS – ARIZONA STATE
RYAN KRAMETBAUER – UNLV – JERSEY RETIRED
ERIC WILLIAMS – CAPTAIN WSHL ONTARIO AVALANCE
JAKE MCKENNA – WSHL LAS VEGAS STORM
JASON ALLEN – AAA L.A. JR KINGS, AAA SAN DIEGO JR GULLS
CHRIS ANDERSON, RYAN BOWMAN, VITO CARLO, VINCE CIAGLO, T.J. CRAIG, IAN DAVIS, ERIK FISCHER, SEAN FOX, SPENCER POSCENTE, ANTHONY ROBONE, JOSH SHIODE, CHRIS SIMONS, ADAM TAMURA, ALEX WINNIK, ADAM ZUCKER, SONNY ZULOAGA