Pat McGrath on Thursday signed with the Utah Grizzlies, ECHL affiliate of the Colorado Avalanche, ending his six-year stint in the Penguins' organization.
McGrath, a native of Shavertown, Pa., is the first (and only) hometown kid to play for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. He first joined the Penguins' organization back in 2013-14 with the Nailers, and was in Wilkes-Barre exclusively the past three seasons.
McGrath, 26, filled the role of an agitator and a fighter in his time in the organization, earning fan favorite status with his hometown crowd. He grew up idolizing guys like Dennis Bonvie in that rink, and as a player he would imitate Bonvie’s signature post-fight celebration.
[caption id="attachment_713218" align="aligncenter" width="640"] Dennis Bonvie, Pat McGrath. -- YOUTUBE[/caption]
“It’s definitely special,” he told me of playing for the Penguins last season. “Every year comes around; it’s pretty cool that I’ve been around now for six years in the organization. I’m just so thankful that they keep giving me an opportunity. It’s always fun being in a winning organization like this.”
In 94 career AHL games, McGrath has scored just three times — and only once on home ice. That goal two seasons ago was an empty net goal, but it still received an extended standing ovation from his hometown crowd.
“It was great. It was an empty net, but it was still fun,” he laughed. “As a kid I always wanted to do that at home. It was special.”
Playing for his childhood team was always a dream of McGrath's, but as he told me last season, the ultimate dream still persists.
“I want to play as long as I possibly can, and obviously would like to play in the NHL. Whatever road I have to take to get there is what I’m going to do.”