Josh Groll’s formula for achievement is pretty simple – wherever you are, work hard.
The Anaheim Jr. Ducks forward continues to do that, and the rewards keep coming. Two months after helping Team USA win the U17 Five Nations Tournament in the Czech Republic, the 2001 birth year and Midget 16U AAA made a college commitment to Michigan.
“It’s good to see a young man who is working hard being rewarded,” said Craig Johnson, the Jr. Ducks director of coaches and 16U AAA co-coach with Alex Kim. “Josh puts in time in the weight room, he works on his game on the ice. Every practice he tries to get better at something.”
That’s the case whether Groll is on the ice or off, said Kim, the club’s director of player personnel.
“Josh is very mature,” Kim said. “He takes academics very seriously. Whether he’s in the gym or on the ice, he’s always trying to better himself.
“He’s always around the puck, and he can create offense because of his speed and strength.”
Groll has continued to take his game to another level this season after a strong performance for Team USA. Through end of October, Groll was tied for the scoring lead in the Tier 1 Elite Hockey League with 23 points through 12 games. He was second in goals (11) and assists (12). He also had four assists in two CAHA games.
“He’s turning into a player who makes a difference every shift,” Johnson said. “His compete level is phenomenal. He’s very good around the net, and he has the ability to finish.”
Interest in Groll peaked at the USHL Fall Classic in Pittsburgh, where the 16Us won games against the Minnesota Blades, Detroit Belle Tire and Detroit Honeybaked before falling deep into a shootout to Chicago Mission in the semifinals.
“Michigan was one of the schools that communicated with my family advisor after that,” said Groll, who previously played for the San Diego Jr. Gulls. “They arranged a campus visit. I liked the tradition of the school and the hockey program. Their legacy showed what it was worth to go there.”
During his visit, he spoke with fellow San Diegan Jake Slaker, who is an assistant captain for the Wolverines as a sophomore.
“He gave me insight into his experiences there,” Groll said.
Groll’s next step after this season likely is to play junior in the United States Hockey League for Omaha, which holds his rights, before enrolling at Michigan in the fall of 2020.
“My time with the Jr. Ducks is going really well,” he said. “It’s been a good transition and our team is coming together.”
Groll becomes the 12th player with ties to the Jr. Ducks to make a Division I commitment in the past four seasons.
Seven players committed last season – forward Patrick Choi (Bentley), defenseman Slava Demin (Denver), defenseman Nicholas Kent (Quinnipiac), center Shane McMahan (Minnesota State) , defenseman Rourke Russell (Miami), forward Eetu Selanne (Northeastern) and defenseman Cam York (Boston College).
Justin Dixson (UMass-Amherst), Jack Gates (Colorado College) and Chad Sasaki (Colorado College) committed during the 2014-15 season and Rory Herrman (Arizona State) committed the next season. In addition, one of Herrman’s teammates, goaltender Carl Stankowski, is playing for Seattle of the Western Hockey League.
Stankowski and Demin are on NHL Central Scouting Service’s watch list for the 2018 Entry Draft.
-- Chris Bayee