Thunderbirds alum, Utah native Grongstad wraps first season of junior hockey with USPHL powerhouse Jets
As a Salt Lake City native, Anders Grongstad has had to move around a bit to find hockey opportunities that fit his skill set.
Growing up, he played for the Utah Jr. Grizzlies and then moved to the Denver area to play AAA hockey for the Colorado Thunderbirds.
This past season, Grongstad, now living in suburban Detroit, skated for the USPHL’s Metro Jets, a team that finished first overall in the league’s Premier Division.
“Metro was a local team, so I went out to skate with them, and I ended up being offered a spot,” Grongstad said. “I improved my game this season as we skated 4-5 times a week every week with games so there was a lot of development. I got physically stronger and mentally stronger as we did lots of video as well.
“What appealed to me was that the Jets are always a very solid team with lots of other players that are trying to improve their game and could help push me every day. I didn’t know a ton about the Jets before joining but I did have a couple friends that played there that had nothing but positive things to say about the organization. The Jets have a really good coaching staff and winning mentality. They push us every day and help guide us to become better players and better people off of the ice.”
With the Jets, the 2001-born forward collected 11 goals and 25 points in 27 games. He added three points in four playoff games as well.
In 2019-20, Grongstad spent two games with the NAHL’s Springfield Jr. Blues.
Looking back on his youth career, Grongstad said his time in Utah and Colorado was a springboard to be able to play junior hockey.
“A coach from Utah that stood out to me was Darryl Olsen,” said Grongstad. “He wasn’t a coach of one of my teams, but he was my skating coach and skills coach. He was one of the main reasons I was able to play at a high level when I moved to Colorado and going forward. Some coaches from Colorado that stood out were my 12U coaches Kevin Fredrick, Zach Blom and Buddy Blom. They always pushed me to be a better person on and off the ice and gave me the tools needed to succeed.”
Grongstad also said he relished his time in youth hockey.
“My favorite memories playing in Utah were when we would go to Wyoming and play in a tournament on an outdoor rink every year,” Grongstad said. “My favorite memories from Colorado were going to the Quebec Pee Wee international tournament (in 2013 and 2014). There were teams from all over the world, and it was a great experience.
“My older brother played hockey, so I always looked up to him when I was younger and wanted to do the same. My parents put me in hockey when I was around seven, but I had been skating and playing mini hockey beforehand. I never lost my love for the game, so I never even thought of quitting hockey at any point.”
Going forward, Grongstad has aspirations to get an education and hopes to be able to play hockey through college.
— Matt Mackinder
(April 15, 2021)