Greg Parks remembered: His game was far more than goals and assists

By June 26, 2015Features

Greg Parks remains one of the most prolific scorers in Falcon history.

But the Edmonton, Alberta native’s game was far more than goals and assists.

His offensive skills were complemented by his ability to compete hard every day, an insatiable desire to win and a presence in the locker room.

Parks, who died June 15 in his hometown, remains the fourth-leading scorer in BG history.

EDMONTON JOURNAL GREG PARKS OBITUARY

The center totaled 240 points in 178 games from 1985-89.

His 101 goals are the ninth-most in school history and his 139 assists are the sixth-most by a Falcon.

The cause of death for the 48-year-old wasn’t disclosed.

“He had a lot of skill, but more than that, he was a competitive son of a buck and a great teammate,” said Buddy Powers, who coached Parks as an assistant at BG. The two remained in touch during the last three decades.

The Falcons were 117-55-7 overall and 81-40-7 in the Central Collegiate Hockey Association during Parks’ four seasons.

BG won the 1987 CCHA regular-season championship, and finished second in the league in 1986 and 1988. The Falcons also won the 1988 CCHA playoff title, and advanced to the NCAA playoffs in each of his final three seasons.

Parks was reliable offensively and defensively, and was used in every situation.

“Nobody had the combination of a competitive flair and a really high skill level and hockey IQ than he did,” said former Falcon defenseman Scott Paluch, a teammate of Parks for three seasons.

“He excelled in every situation. His ability to get things done was amazing,” Paluch added.

Parks was a force almost every game, even though he was on the small side. He was generously listed at 5-foot-10, 169 pounds.

“If he had a good pair of shoes on, he might have been 5-9,” Powers said. “He didn’t back down or give an inch to anyone.”

Parks played far bigger than his size. He played a physical game and was a pest in the hockey vernacular. He was widely disliked around the CCHA, but his teammates, coaches and Falcon fans loved him.

He totaled 277 career penalty minutes.

“He’s the most competitive player I’ve ever coached,” said Wayne Wilson, who coached Parks as an assistant at BG.

Parks was inducted into the BGSU Athletics Hall of Fame in 2002. During the 1988-89 season, he was third in the nation in scoring with 74 points in 47 games.

“He was so competitive, even in practice,” Paluch said. “If you went against him in practice, you knew you had better bring it.”

Paluch said Parks even was competitive during card games on road trips.

“He wanted to win at everything,” Paluch added.

Defenseman Rob Blake was a freshman and sophomore at BG when Parks was a junior and senior.

“He was one of those veterans you learned from,” Blake said. “He wasn’t the biggest or the fastest guy, but he competed hard every day and that rubbed off on other guys and made them better.

“You learned about the tradition of the program from him and the other veterans, and what was expected and how to do things,” Blake added.

Parks also had a presence in the locker room, thanks to his outgoing nature, quick wit and great sense of humor.

“He could always get a laugh out of guys,” Paluch said. “He was quick with a joke and you need those guys in the locker room. He had a lot of fun.”

Parks came to BG as an elite-level scorer after totaling 71 goals and 114 assists in 106 regular-season games for the St. Albert Saints in the Alberta Junior Hockey League during the 1983-84 and 84-85 seasons.

He had 110 points and 200 penalty minutes during his second season.

When Parks committed to BG during the 1984-85 season, there were those who thought he would join his brother, Malcolm, at North Dakota.

Malcolm Parks had 39 goals and 52 assists in 159 games at UND, playing from 1983-87.

But Greg Parks elected to play at BG.

“I think he wanted to make his own path and go somewhere else,” said Jerry York, BG’s head coach during Parks’ tenure. “I just loved him as a player, mostly his competitive nature. He was a key cog for us.”

Powers and the late Terry Flanagan recruited Parks to BG.

“We really wanted him,” Powers said. “But at that time, North Dakota pretty much had the pick of the players out there and not a lot of schools recruited the Alberta Junior Hockey League. We were lucky to get him.

“He made guys around him better and he wanted to be out there in every situation,” Powers added. “He wanted to be the guy who made the big plays and not all guys want to be out there when it counts.”

Parks was one of three gifted centers to play at BG during the mid to late 1980s, joining future National Hockey Leaguers Nelson Emerson and Paul Ysebaert.

After playing at BG, Parks played 14 seasons professionally, skating in the NHL and internationally. He played parts of the three seasons with the NHL’s New York Islanders from 1990-93, totaling a goal and two assists in 23 games.

Parks played two seasons with Ysebaert and three with Emerson. All three were on the 1986-87 team.

“(Parks) always told me he was the number one center on the team and that really drove him to be successful,” York said.

Emerson is BG’s all-time leading scorer, totaling 294 points in four seasons from 1986-90. Ysebaert is tied for 10th in career points. He had 208 points in three seasons from 1984-87.

Parks also won a silver medal in 1994 Olympics, skating for Canada. After his playing career ended, he coached the St. Albert Steel in the AJHL.

Kevin Gordon

About Kevin Gordon

Kevin joined BGSUHockey.com after wrapping up a 27-year run as the Falcon hockey beat writer for the Sentinel-Tribune. He now provides his features, notebooks, and insights with BGSUHockey.com to continue providing Falcon hockey fans with the in-depth coverage they've loved for nearly three decades. He can be reached by e-mail at Kevin@bgsuhockey.com and on Twitter at @KGordonBG.

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