Mismash brings family ties together at UND
Larry Mismash's phone rang at home in Hoyt Lakes, Minn.
He picked it up, but didn't recognize the voice on the other end.
"Mismash, that you?"
"Yes," he answered.
"You won't believe who this is. It's Jay LaDue."
"What the heck?" Mismash exclaimed.
The 1959 Minnesota Business College classmates and basketball teammates hadn't spoken in roughly three decades.
But LaDue was at a rink in the Twin Cities a couple of years ago and saw a hockey player with the name "Mismash" on the back of his jersey.
"There's only one Mismash," LaDue thought to himself.
He searched for his old teammate's phone number with an online directory and found a listing for Larry in Hoyt Lakes.
"We were friends way back then, but we didn't know anything about hockey," Larry said laughing. "We had lost track of each other through the years until he called."
He asked if that hockey player was his grandson. It was.
They talked about the old times. They set up dinners together.
And now the old teammates close again, frequently exchanging messages about their grandsons, who both turned out to be stars in hockey—not basketball—and both chose the same college.
Jay's grandson, Paul, is now with the Los Angeles Kings organization after winning a national championship at UND. Larry's grandson, Grant, is now a freshman at UND.
Grant's choice was not a surprise to his father, Pat.
Although Grant grew up in the Twin Cities in the shadow of the University of Minnesota, he watched Shane Gersich choose UND over the Gophers, where his father and three uncles played.
Pat Mismash and Frank Gersich, Shane's father, had been close friends. They worked together in the car business for decades. Their families even took a trip to Mexico together six or seven years ago.
Frank's words of advice for the Mismash family during the recruiting process were that "you've got to go on a visit to UND and experience it."
They did go on that visit.
Grant asked his father if he could commit on the spot. His father said no. Grant needed to see more schools before making a decision.
Months later, he asked again if he could commit. Pat said yes.
"What do I do? Call Dave Hakstol and tell him I'm going to go there?" Grant asked his father.
"Oh, so you're going to North Dakota," Pat answered.
It was the first time he knew for sure.
"That was where I was ultimately hoping he would go," Pat said. "We had a great experience there from the coaching staff to the school to the administration, it was all first-class.
"He's in the best possible place, there's no doubt about it."
Pat was in Grand Forks for UND's home-opening series against St. Lawrence. In the parents lounge, he was together with his old business partner, Frank.
"Our paths have crossed again," Pat said.
A top prospect
Mismash's decision to attend UND has not only brought together old family ties, it has given the Fighting Hawks one of college hockey's elite young players.
The second-round NHL draft pick of the Nashville Predators was named the National Collegiate Hockey Conference rookie of the month after tallying seven points in his first seven career games.
Mismash is UND's leading forward scorer through October.
"He's awesome," teammate Hayden Shaw said. "He obviously brings a lot to our lineup. He's really skilled. He plays hard. He plays the game the right way. He makes his line better."
Grant's development started with his family.
Pat played hockey in the United States Hockey League and his mother, Kim, was a figure skater. Grant's older brother, Parker, now a freshman at St. Scholastica in Duluth, also played hockey.
Grant and Parker's knee hockey games in the basement were so intense that they broke the window four times before Pat finally put plexiglass over it. Grant once shattered a sliding glass door in December, too.
"It was all worth it, though," Pat said.
Although Grant always ended up on the short end of their competitions, he's now 6-foot, 190 pounds, while Parker is 5-foot-10, 170 pounds.
"They are great for each other," Pat said. "They're tight for as many times as they beat up on each other. We always told Parker, 'Watch out, because some day, he's going to wallop you.'"
Mismash will play at Wisconsin this weekend, where he will find himself going against his close friend Sean Dhooghe.
Mismash and Dhooghe, teammates with the U.S. National Team Development Program the last two years, spent countless hours fishing largemouth bass together in their spare time.
At the start of the week, Dhooghe texted Mismash to bring his fishing pole to Madison this weekend.
That won't happen, but Mismash will hope to build on a successful start to his rookie season at 7 p.m. Friday night in the Kohl Center.
"It's been really fun so far," Mismash said. "I really like the guys. I like our freshman class. It's a really close class."
No. 4 UND at No. 7 Wisconsin
• When: 7 p.m. Friday, 7 p.m. Saturday.
• Where: Kohl Center, Madison, Wis.
• Radio: The Fox (96.1 FM).
• Webcast: btn2go.com.
• Records: UND 5-2-1, Wisconsin 6-3.
• Of note: Wisconsin returns to Grand Forks next season for a two-game series.