This is part three of five tributes which I'm publishing today highlighting the careers of each of the five graduating UAA Seawolves senior class. The members of the class in alphabetical order are Tommy Grant, Nick Haddad, Craig Parkinson, Luka Vidmar and Sean Wiles.
I'd be hard pressed to come up with former Seawolves player whom I could describe as well-rounded and complete as Craig Parkinson. Somewhere buried in some statistics I can imagine you wouldn't find a forward that has shown the defensive commitment that Craig has shown. If you've watched a UAA hockey game in the past 4 seasons and seen someone give up his body to block a shot, it was probably Craig. His career scoring numbers to date as a Seawolf are 27 goals, 26 assists in 130 games.
He has provided hard-work, energy, secondary scoring, penalty killing, power play excellence and probably most importantly been the best player on the draw that the Seawolves have had that I can remember. He has consistently taken face-offs against many of the best players in the WCHA over the last four years and much more often than not he's come out on the winning end. This season more than any other his key wins on the draw have been major factors in Seawolf victories.
His leadership in all areas of the game have been a sublime example to younger players. From his sophomore year through this season Craig has given up any pursuit of individual honors and statistics in order to mentor younger linemates. That sort of contribution can't be underestimated. For a younger player to have a mature dependable presence leading them means they can best develop their talents and take on bigger roles over time. While we've seen exactly that happen, Craig has quietly continued to provide that important service to the team.
Like the other seniors on this years squad Craig has been a very important force killing penalties. I mentioned how many shots he's blocked right? He played most of his career on the 3rd and 4th lines yet still provided very important secondary scoring for the team.
Craig came to UAA after a 3+ year career in the BCHL with Cowichan Valley where in 161 games he scored 74 goals and 84 assists. During the 06-07 season he scored an impressive 42 goals and in 18 playoff games that year added 11 goals and 9 assists.
In his freshman season at UAA Craig played in 33 games putting 7 pucks behind WCHA goalies and adding 9 helpers to lead all rookies in scoring including being tied for the team lead in power play goals and finished on the league rookie points table tied for 8th. The first 3 point game of his career came against UAF.
As a sophomore, Craig once again put 7 pucks in the net and added 4 assists in 35 games. He scored two game winning goals and nabbed his first shortie. The Seawolves were 6-3-1 that season when he recorded a point in the game. He was a member of the WCHA All-Academic team and was recipient of the Student-Athlete award at the end of the year banquet.
Last season, Craig scored 6 goals and added 5 assists in 32 games. He had a game winner, a shortie and one power play tally. And for the 3rd year in a row he had one of the highest shot percentages on the team with .188. And once again he put those numbers up from the 3rd and 4th line while mentoring younger players.
This season Craig has scored 7 goals and added 8 assists in 30 games so far. He should finish his career with his best statistical performance. He's scored 3 power play goals and added his 3rd shorthanded goal.
Going forward, Craig has lots of potential to advance his career in hockey. He can clearly score goals even though his numbers over his UAA career don't fully represent that. I think it's just a matter of finding the right situation and he could be an excellent 3rd line player in the AHL. With some development and the right chances he very well could work his way into a call up for the NHL. Craig's skating is well above average at this level, he has a good shot and is never shy about the high traffic areas. He is smart on the cycle while being as gritty and tough as anyone in the corners.
Craig will not be replaced by any single player next season. He just does too many things well for that. We'll definitely miss his face off work and I know I'll miss his incredible work ethic and committment in the UAA end. I've been calling him one of the top defensive forwards in the WCHA this season and I think that's completely accurate.
I wish Craig all the best with whatever paths he chooses to follow after graduating. He is a civil engineering major so whenever his playing days are done, he's got a very secure career. We'll miss you Craig. Knock the hell outta some 'nookies this coming weekend and I hope you enjoy every minute of the remaining season.