The Last Line of Defense: Eric Parker
By Owen Sienko
It’s a well-known stereotype. The goalie is the weirdest guy on the team.
Many of the all-time greats had their own unique routines before manning the crease. Glenn Hall vomited before every game. Patrick Roy had conversations with the goal posts. Braden Holtby times his preparations down to the minute.
Eric Parker is no different.
Although he may not force himself to throw up or speak to inanimate objects, Parker certainly follows a routine of his own. Before every game, he always eats the same meal: chicken and pasta. On his way to the rink, he always listens to the same playlist of EDM music, and when he gets there, he always switches it over to rap. When it’s time to hit the ice, he follows the same warmup routine every single time.
Junior defenseman Ford Hatchett said Parker is so married to his ritual that it gets annoying.
“He’s got this stupid little heating pad that he uses on his quad and groin before every skate, so if you ride to the rink with Parks you need to leave like 15 to 20 minutes early to make sure he has time to prepare,” Hatchett said.
Like many other goalies, Eric Parker started out as a skater and fell in love with goaltending after giving it a try as a kid.
“I just kind of realized I really liked rolling around on the ice as a little kid, and I figured that goalies get to do that more often than players do,” he said.
Parker first strapped on the pads in fourth grade and instantly felt at-home in the crease. By the time fifth grade rolled around, he was playing in net full-time and stayed there throughout his high school career in Greenwich, Connecticut.
When it came time to choose a college to attend, Parker had just two criteria: he wanted to study mechanical engineering and he wanted to play hockey. It came down to a choice between Syracuse University and the University of New Hampshire. Ultimately, it was hockey that tipped the scales.
“Syracuse had the higher level of hockey, which was appealing to me, and I was having conversations with the coaches at the time,” Parker said.
For his first three years at Syracuse, Eric Parker focused on his academics while he patiently waited to take over as the team’s starter. As the third-string goalie, he watched the Orange win from the press box. In 2017, he watched them make a national championship run. In 2019, he watched them take home the ESCHL trophy.
By his senior year, Parker was the only upperclassman in the four-man goalie group for Syracuse, and the only net minder to have played any collegiate minutes at all. Finally, the starting job was his.
Finally, it was his turn to win.
Parker quickly became a staple in net for the Orange in his first semester as the team’s number one goalie, starting in every single one of Syracuse’s 15 games that fall. Although the pressure to repeat the success he’s seen so many times before is immense, Parker says he has loved having more ice time to serve his team.
“It’s definitely nice to have the confidence from the coaches, that they believe in you enough that they [...] want to put me in night-in and night-out,” he said.
After Parker graduates from Syracuse with his degree in Mechanical Engineering, he will go from defending the crease to defending the country. He already has a job lined up back home in Connecticut, where he will design nuclear submarines.
“I’ve kind of always been interested in working in the defense systems industry, so I’m really excited about that,” Parker said.
Eric Parker’s last night in net will come on Sunday, March 1, when he and six of his classmates will suit up for the Orange one last time. When the final buzzer sounds on Senior Night, Parker will be leaving behind more than just his mask. He will be leaving behind his teammates.
“I’m definitely going to miss playing games, but there’s always men’s league for that down the road,” Parker said. “That time in the locker room, that time on the bus, those are the moments I’m going to miss the most.”
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