Friday, May 13, 2011

'Jacks captain Parker to play at Maine

No one was as thrilled as John Parker when he accepted a full scholarship from the University of Maine on Tuesday.

Except, perhaps, for Muskegon Lumberjacks owner Josh Mervis.

“I couldn’t be more pleased for John Parker today,” said Mervis, who served as an assistant under the late great Shawn Walsh for the Black Bears in the mid-1990s. “He was a terrific captain and this is a very happy day.”

“I’m very excited,” Parker said. “And I feel very prepared. It had to be a perfect situation, because I was ready to come back and captain the Jacks again. Nothing will replace the experience I had in Muskegon.”

Parker, who was unanimously voted captain by his teammates, shattered nearly every career high he set in his first two United States Hockey League seasons while skating for the Jacks. He set new single-season marks in games played (58), goals (9) and assists (22). His point total (31) more than doubled his largest previous output.

But it was Parker’s intangibles – his ability to lead by example, his work ethic and his experience winning the Clark Cup with Indiana in 2009 – that Jacks head coach Kevin Patrick will miss most.

“He did everything the right way and set the example of what it means to be a Lumberjack,” Patrick said. “He doesn’t cut corners; he sets the pace. He’s always first in conditioning drills. He’s set a great example of how to approach this game and how to approach life.

“I couldn’t be more proud for him to move up to the next level and become a part of Maine’s storied tradition.”

Parker, a Green Brook, N.J., native who the Jacks selected in the 2010 USHL Expansion Draft, will get a chance to be one of the top nine forwards for one of the most celebrated programs in the nation.

“He’ll step in and immediately contribute for a fabulous school in a fabulous conference,” Mervis said. “I’d want my own son to play for (Black Bears head coach) Tim Whitehead,” Mervis said. “He cares about his players and people and will make sure they graduate. To me, that’s as important as becoming a National Hockey League player.”

Parker tied for fourth on the Jacks’ roster in plus/minus with a +3 rating, a tribute to his relentless hustle. One of the fastest skaters in the USHL, Parker took pride in playing all 200 feet of the ice.

“Good things happen to those who work hard,” Patrick said. “John Parker’s hustle, his compete level and work ethic are the foundation for good things, no matter what he does in this world.”

Photo by Dave Reginek/USHL

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