Grinders love their hockey hot |

Grinders love their hockey hot

Steve Yingling

While remaining rinkless in their hometown, a group of South Shore hockey players continue to satisfy their hockey needs – even in the summertime.

The Alpen Sierra Grinders (5-4) are in the midst of a 10-game Squaw Valley Adult Summer Ice Hockey League season at Squaw Valley USA. They stand in third place in the five-team league with only one game remaining in the regular season. All five teams qualify for the two-game minimum postseason.

Not even an imperious drive of two hours per game and a 9:15 p.m. opening faceoff, can deter the players from the ice.

“Someone would have to have a death in the family or a major illness or they’ll show up,” said Paul Kracht, a goalie for the Grinders. “It’s worth the drive around the lake to play. Everybody who plays is pretty devoted to the game.”

After being cut up by the Razors 8-0 in their league opener June 30, the Grinders have played solid hockey.

Gary Gramprie scored a hat trick and Mark Pardo added two goals as the Grinders munched the North Shore White Caps, 8-2. Cory Murdock, Scott Freeman and Mark Heidt found the net once. Assists came off the sticks of Freeman, John duGuan, Rick Bowe and Bob Klein.

Kracht was busy in the crease, stopping 22 shots, as the White Caps couldn’t capitalize on plethora power plays.

“We had seven power plays against us and still took it to them, the defense played great and our forwards and wingers kept them skating hard all night. I felt like a spectator most of the game,” Kracht said.

Gramprie accomplished his second straight hat trick with three goals in the Grinders’ 10-4 rout of the Nuggets on July 7. Pardo and Derrick Wagner contributed two goals.

Heidt tallied the Grinders’ lone goal on an assist from Bowe in a 14-1 setback to the Nuggets on July 9.

Following another rout of the Nuggets – 8-1 on July 14 – the Grinders were again pounded by the Chiefs, 10-1, on July 16. Once again, Heidt was the only Grinder finding the net.

In recent games, the Grinders have become more aggressive, drawing a multitude of penalties, in an effort to win. In a 5-1 triumph over the White Caps on July 23, the Grinders were assessed six penalties. Five different Grinders scored.

Two days earlier, the Grinders showed improvement in a 5-3 loss to the Razors, who blanked the South Shore team in the season opener.

Gramprie was again worthy of fans filling the rink with hats last Wednesday as he scored three goals in a 7-3 victory over the White Caps.

Anyone wishing to catch a Grinders game must take the 8:40 p.m. tram to High Camp at Squaw Valley. The cost is $5. Dress warm and limited seating is on a first-come, first-served basis.

Alpen Sierra concludes its regular season against the Razors Wednesday night. The playoffs start Aug. 11.

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