Former American Grillo commits to play at St. Mary’s University, Receives Academic Scholarship

By Kevin Scott

GREAT FALLS, Mont., Apr. 29, 2014 — A former Great Falls American hockey standout recently announced his intentions of playing college hockey at a NCAA Division III school.

Billy Grillo, who played for the Great Falls Americans Junior A hockey team during the 2012-13 American West Hockey League (AWHL) season has accepted a scholarship to play collegiately for the St. Mary’s University Cardinals in Winona, Minnesota.

During his one season with the Americans, the 6’2” defender from Hermantown, Minnesota scored four goals and added 15 assists (19 points) in 48 games for the Great Falls franchise.

He helped Great Falls finish with a 16-30-2 record in coach Jeff Heimel’s first season with the team and he had his best offensive effort when he scored two goals against the Glacier Nationals in a 10-2 victory in December 2012. Grillo also was selected as a 2012-2013 First team All-Star Defenseman and received the team community service award for his dedication to the city of Great Falls community.

The Minnesota native started the 2013-14 season playing for the Fort Frances (Ontario) Lakers from the Superior International Junior Hockey League (SIJHL). He registered six goals and five assists in 24 games. The recent St. Mary’s University signee was then traded to the Sarnia (Ontario) Legionnaires of the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League (GOJHL) and played in the final 21 games with the Junior B team adding a goal and three assists. His squad fell to the London Nationals in the best-of-seven first round playoff series 4-3.

“On a personal level, the Americans gave me a chance to grow as a hockey player in my first year in junior hockey,” said Grillo. “They gave me an opportunity to expand my game and to develop as a player along with great coaching in Great Falls.”

He also mentioned that Coach Jeff Heimel was one of the most competitive coaches that he had played for.  He spends the extra time with players and goes the extra mile and that is why he is successful.

“Playing for the Americans was a huge stepping stone for my career and the experience (in junior hockey) itself allowed me to grow as a hockey player,” said Grillo. “I am very glad I played junior hockey because it has prepared me so much for the college level.”

When asked what he looks forward to playing at the collegiate level, Grillo said he was “looking forward to the next competition level and plans to keep pushing himself and trying to make the varsity level as he embraces a new challenge.”

“Coming to play for the Americans was one of the best decisions that I made in my life. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity and I was very fortunate to spend that opportunity in Great Falls playing for coach (Heimel) and for a great team owner in Jim Keough.”

Billy’s statistics with the Great Falls Americans can be viewed by clicking here.