Community service has been a game-changing experience for Milwaukee Admirals goaltender Troy Grosenick.
Growing up in Brookfield, Grosenick revered hockey players. While attending an Admirals game as a toddler, a player handed him a broken hockey stick as he skated by. The details are fuzzy, Grosenick admits, but the exuberance of that moment remains crystal clear and set the tone for Grosenick’s ongoing volunteer efforts, most of which are focused on children.
For his outstanding contributions to the Milwaukee area community and charitable organizations, Grosenick has been named the American Hockey League’s Man of the Year for the 2019-20 season.
The 30-year-old Grosenick is the only player in team history to be born and raised in the Milwaukee area and is the first Admirals player to win the award, which has been handed out since 1998 and is named in memory of Yanick Dupre, an AHL All-Star who died of leukemia at the age of 24.
“Even when I was playing hockey in Milwaukee as a high school kid, we were out doing things in the community,” Grosenick says. “Just having some of the advantages I had growing up it makes you reflect on how lucky you are and hoping you can pay it forward helping other people.”
Grosenick has been involved in a variety of community activities, including the Polar Plunge to benefit Special Olympics, the Midwest Athletes Against Childhood Cancer Fund Celebrity Softball game that raised more than $100,000 and teaching at youth hockey clinics.
Grosenick also has pledged $1 to the MACC Fund for every save he makes this season on the ice.
“We get a lot out of it, too,” Grosenick says. “It’s awesome going out to rinks and seeing smiles on kids’ faces. And when you are working with kids who are disadvantaged or going through tough times with illness, it grounds you, for sure. It puts things in perspective.”
After playing hockey at Union College in New York, Grosenick signed with the San Jose Sharks organization. He made his NHL debut on Nov. 12, 2014, recording a shutout against the Carolina Hurricanes. His 45-save effort set a record for most saves in a debut shutout. The moment became a hit on social media, as cameras captured Grosenick’s father, Scott, weeping with joy in the stands as his son’s teammates swarmed him at the final horn.
San Jose traded Grosenick to the Nashville Predators in February 2018, and he was assigned to Milwaukee, the team’s AHL affiliate.
Grosenick’s charitable efforts have taken on even more meaning since returning home.
“I want to give back to the community that helped me become the person I am today,” Grosenick says.
Grosenick’s local volunteer work also includes the Admirable Teammate program that he leads along with fellow netminder Connor Ingram. The program encourages youth hockey players to be good teammates.
The Admirals selected 20 children from the program to play a game at the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena, the Admirals home ice. The game, which had been scheduled for March 23, had to be cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Still, the campaign helped to spread the message that being a good teammate is more important that scoring goals or making saves, Grosenick says.
Grosenick and his Admirals teammates also served as waiters at the Prevent Blindness of Wisconsin Celebrity Waiters dinner, the organization’s largest fundraiser. In addition to taking part in the event, Grosenick served as lead chef and host for an auction item that included a dinner cooked for the top bidder in their home. The auction item alone raised more than $3,000.
Grosenick also joined the Milwaukee Fire Department for its Warm Up Winter campaign, which distributes new coats to thousands of central-city and disadvantaged children in the Milwaukee area.
He has also delivered gifts to the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Eastern Wisconsin and made numerous visits to local ice rinks to work with youth hockey participants, including those in Elmbrook Youth Hockey and the Milwaukee Jr. Admirals, programs that he participated in as a youngster.
“I just want to make sure that every interaction I have with a kid is positive, even if I’m just at the rink and give a kid a high five and a smile,” Grosenick says.
Grosenick serves as the Admirals “Locker Room Ambassador,” giving tours and signing autographs for children and their families after games. He’s also been honorary chairman for the March of Dimes March for Babies.
“We are so proud of all the amazing work that Troy and his teammates have done for our community,” Admirals owner and CEO Harris Turer says. “One of the primary tenets of our organization is to give back to the community that provides us with such tremendous support. Troy embodies this philosophy.”
Grosenick also has done his part in goal this season, helping the Admirals to the AHL’s best record before the season was suspended on March 12 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It’s been a lot of fun and we obviously have a really good team,” Grosenick says. “We’re on pause right now but we are focusing on what we can do to stay ready for when the time comes, and the league says we can get back on the ice. Hopefully that happens, and we’ll get to go after that Calder Cup.”
Grosenick says he and his teammates are holding out hope that the season can resume, despite recent reports that the AHL likely would cancel the rest of its season.
“You definitely cherish every opportunity you have to win a championship,” Grosenick says. “I think everyone in that locker room knows we have a real shot, so we’re going to hold on to that as long as we can. If it doesn’t go the way that we want it to, then we know that we did everything that we could to pursue that dream. It will be a little bit of a sore spot, but there are bigger problems in the world right now.”