LOS ANGELES (AP) — Rocco Grimaldi played two hockey games in two leagues about 1,350 miles and 11 hours apart on Tuesday.
The Florida Panthers’ rookie forward was only disappointed he couldn’t get two wins out of his personal doubleheader.
Grimaldi suited up for the AHL’s San Antonio Rampage on Tuesday morning, recording three shots on goal. He and his mother then hopped on a plane to Los Angeles, where he suited up for the Panthers as an emergency replacement for Aleksander Barkov.
“I felt pretty good out there,” Grimaldi said after logging 10:36 in the Panthers’ 5-2 loss to the Kings. “I grew up playing two, three, four games a day. I know this is a little bit different, but you’ve just got to be mentally prepared. I knew if I prepared mentally that my body would follow along.”
The 21-year-old forward was able to do double duty because the Rampage had a game that started at 10:30 a.m. for schoolchildren. Grimaldi was pulled out in San Antonio before the third period of the Rampage’s 4-3 shootout win when the Panthers realized Barkov was out with an illness.
“We were up 3-2 when I left, and I was just getting ready to go back on for the third,” Grimaldi said. “We had a penalty that had carried over from the second, and was getting ready to go kill it. Then I got pulled aside and (they) said I wouldn’t finish the game. I was a little upset, but I’m glad the boys were able to finish the win in a shootout.”
“I wish we would have gotten wins in both,” he added. “That would have been really cool.”
Grimaldi is a native of Rossmoor, California, just south of Los Angeles, who grew up playing roller hockey before he moved to Michigan for his teenage years. A second-round pick by the Panthers in 2011, he starred for the University of North Dakota and played for the U.S. team at last year’s world junior championships before turning pro this year.
He played four games for the Panthers earlier this season before returning to the minors.
“I flew straight into L.A., so that really helped,” Grimaldi said. “My mom and dad and a lot of friends were here (at Staples Center) tonight. My mom was actually there in San Antonio this morning watching the game, and then she flew back here, too. So she did a doubleheader, too.”
Grimaldi’s feat recalled similar doubleheaders in sports history.
Joel Youngblood got a hit for two different teams on Aug. 4, 1982, when he was traded by the Mets to the Expos during New York’s game at Wrigley Field. He arrived at Philadelphia’s Veterans Stadium after Montreal’s night game had begun, and singled against Steve Carlton in the seventh inning.
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