When Ohio State senior captain Anthony Greco was notified that Friday’s game against Nebraska-Omaha would be his 100th as a Buckeye, he gave an uncommon response for a college hockey player reaching that type of milestone.
“It is? Really?” he asked. “I didn’t know that.”
It is actually fitting that he said that. If one sees him play, it’s clear he skates with the energy of someone stepping on the ice for his first college game.
The son of Paul, a New York City firefighter, and Mary Jane, a nurse, Greco has dedicated his life to the game of hockey, leaving home at the age of 12 to attend perineal hockey powerhouse Shattuck St. Mary’s School in Faribault, Minnesota.
For a kid that young to make that impactful of a decision on his life says a lot, but the now 22-year-old Greco did not mind at all.
“It wasn’t tough for me at the time because I kind of just saw it as one big vacation at the time of making the decision,” Greco said. “When you get there, you realize it’s a lot different. You can’t go home to mom and dad after a game, after practice or after a day of school. It was an adjustment, but I really enjoyed the people that I met there. It definitely made me grow up a lot faster.”
Following his stay at Shattuck, Greco spent time with the Waterloo Black Hawks and the Des Moines Buccaneers of the United States Hockey League, the top junior league in the United States.
Then it was time to make his decision on where to play in college.
In his second year in the league, after participating in the USHL Fall Classic, the most highly scouted event in the country attended by NCAA and NHL scouts alike, Boston University, Ohio State and St. Cloud State were among his top choices.
His decision to come to OSU was based off of the loyalty of coach Steve Rohlik and his staff, as well as his desire to come to a city that has a lot to offer.
“I’m from New York, so I wanted to go to a big school and be surrounded by a lot of people,” Greco said. “I don’t think in the Big Ten there’s a better city to go to with so much stuff to do.”
A total of 99 games later, Greco has been through a lot. There have been many highs, but also many lows, like being a goal away from an NCAA title birth his sophomore year. Still, he has plenty of games yet to play this season.
“To be able to come and play 100 games, that’s a lot of college hockey games, and he still has a lot to go,” Rohlik said. “He’s put some bricks in the wall here at Ohio State. When he leaves here, hopefully he can do something special.”
After solid seasons in his freshman and sophomore years, Greco enjoyed a breakout campaign last year in which he put up a team-high 15 goals. He added eight assists for a career-high 23 points in 36 games played.
So far this year, he is on pace to pass that point total after 10 games with four goals and four assists.
“He brings passion and excitement to the rink every day,” fellow captain and classmate Craig Dalrymple said. “As a player, we know what he’s got, what he is going to bring every day. You see speed, you see skill, you see a guy that is going to be the first on the forecheck. As a person outside of the rink, he’s everything you could ask for. If you need him for something, he is going to be there for you.”
In terms of what the future holds for Greco, he is no different than any other player who laced up the skates for the first time as a young boy, chasing the ultimate dream of playing in the NHL some day.
“Everyone says that they want to play in the NHL,” Greco said. “I’m going to take the best path to get there. Whether that’s going hopefully to the American Hockey League or going over to Europe in Finland or Sweden or something along those lines, I want to play at the highest level that I’m capable of playing at and do the best I can and see where it takes me.”
Greco’s 100th game is set to be played on Friday at Nebraska-Omaha. Puck-drop is scheduled for 8:07 p.m., followed by a rematch at the same time the following night.