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Published January 22, 2014, 03:48 PM

A Greater Goal: The Story Of Rocco Grimaldi

University of North Dakota sophomore Rocco Grimaldi is a star for the men's hockey team. But Grimaldi has a greater goal of one day becoming a pastor.

By: Dan Corey, WDAZ

North Dakota men's hockey player Rocco Grimaldi is known for his amazing plays on the ice and is loved by UND fans for giving it everything he's got.

But there's a side to Rocco that most don't know as Grimaldi skate towards a greater goal.

It's the movie Rudy, come to life.

Grimaldi, "Growing up, there might have been maybe two or three kids that I play with that were close to me in size in terms of being the smallest. But other than that, I'm used to playing this role."

Standing five-six and weighing around 170, Rocco Grimaldi doesn't exactly spell hockey player.

"I just love it. It's just so much fun and God put a passion inside of me for it so I'm going to go at it with everything I got and do the best I can."

That effort from the second round draft pick of the Florida Panthers has made him a fan favorite at UND, and a favorite in the locker room.

Dave Hakstol, UND Head Coach, "He's a guy that has consistently and steadily gained the respect of everybody in the locker room by the way he competes and by the way he lives."

That life was almost taken from the California native when he was just one year old.

Grimaldi, "I think it was maybe just barely a week after my first birthday."

Grimaldi doesn't remember but has been told several times.

"My mom and I were in the car and I was in the backseat. We're on the freeway and kind of got cut off. We went end over end six or seven lanes."

What transpired was a miracle.

"I should have been dead, for sure, 100 percent. But she just reaches in there and my car seat happened to be sitting perfectly up where she was reaching up and so I was looking up at her and she remembers looking and I was just smiling. Wasn't crying, I wasn't scared. She reached in and grabbed me and there were no scratches on me. It's amazing. It's something I can look at in life and say there's no way I can say there is not a God."

And that's why you can find Grimaldi, here at church, every Sunday.

"Christ, the son of God came to die for me. That's better news than me scoring the game winning goal in the Stanley Cup Championship.

Rocco has never been shy about his faith and is hoping to one day turn his attention from hockey to the heavens and become a pastor.

"I love hockey so I talk about hockey a lot. I love Jesus so I'm going to talk about Jesus a lot. The things in my life that I love and the things I'm excited about are the things I'm going to talk about."

Bryce Meyer, Pastor Freedom Church, "When I heard that Rocco was looking to head into the ministry after hockey is all said and done, it really excited me because I can see him doing an incredible job at that. He's very personable and so, he just loves to talk to people and obviously that passion you see on the ice, is so necessary for being a pastor too."

Like Meyer, Grimaldi's grace is echoed by his teammates.

Drake Caggula, Rocco's teammate, "When he speaks, a lot of people listen to him. He practices what he preaches and that's good for a leader. It will definitely translate into him being a pastor."

Number 19 might not be the biggest or the baddest on the ice but..

Grimaldi, 'The Lord told Samuel, don't look at the outward appearance, look at the heart. For me being my size, I think that is the perfect verse. People are going to look at me and say, 'ah he is too small to play or he can't have a long career, he's too small, he's not strong enough. But I just look at it and say, "Ah, I might not be but I know someone who is."

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