2003 - 2004
March 30, 2004
Generals defenseman Geno Parrish (center) keeps himself between Florence's Allan Sirois and Greensboro goalie Daniel Berthiaume during a recent ECHL game at the Greensboro Coliseum. Parrish ranks third in scoring among ECHI defenseman with 10 goals and 53 assists this season.
Photo Courtesy the News & Record
The Greensboro Generals are locked in a four-way race for three spots in the ECHL playoffs, and offensive-minded defenseman Geno Parrish isn't ready for his best season as a pro to end prematurely.
GOLF? PARRISH THE THOUGHT
BY LARRY KEECH
GREENSBORO - It isn't that Geno Parrish doesn't like golf, but he's not anxious to play his next round.
The longer the Greensboro Generals' defenseman can put it off, the longer he can enjoy the most productive of his five seasons in pro hockey.
"I only play golf twice a year - before training camp starts and when the season ends with some of my teammates," Parrish said. "I don't want to be playing next week."
For Parrish and the rest of the Generals' nucleus of veteran players, an imminent visit to the golf course would mean their two-year quest of an ECHL championship would have ended in disappointment. It would also draw a futile finish to his best pro season.
That, however, is a distinct possibility as the final week of the ECHL season begins with the Generals' home game against the Gwinnett Gladiators tonight.
Greensboro is locked in a four-way battle for three playoff berths behind the Columbia Inferno in the league's Southern Division.
Parrish's desire to get back on the golf course at the end of a six-month, 72-game season doesn't begin to challenge his passion for the game he plays for a living.
As a youngster in Bloomington, Minn., he was introduced to hockey on a neighbor's frozen pond.
"Playing the game soon became an addiction and evolved into a passion," he said.
The 29-year-old defenseman is the Generals' third-leading scorer with a 63 points on 10 goals and 53 assists. That's 20 more than his previous career high. Only two other ECHL defensemen have higher scoring totals.
Parrish downplayed his statistics as a barometer of his improvement in his second season with the Generals.
"It's nothing drastic," he said. "I'm a little more experienced, more familiar with the league, more confident. I've had more opportunities on the power play, and I've been surrounded by talented scorers. It's a lot of fun to join the rush, but you have to pick your spots."
At 5-foot-11 and 180 pounds, Parrish is an offense-minded defenseman in a similar mold to teammate Kurt Drummond.
He depicts himself as a frustrated forward who became a defenseman early in his career "because I learned to skate backward at an early age."
"But," he added, "I'll take a turn at forward any chance I get. It's just not easy for a guy my size to move a 200-pound defenseman."
His brother Mark, who's two years younger than Geno, is a high-scoring veteran forward for the NHL's New York Islanders.
"Mark got all the good hockey genes in the family," Parrish said. "He's not much bigger than me, but he's one of those guys Who has the innate ability to put the puck in the net."
Parrish's hockey career almost didn't get off the ground because of academic deficiencies in high school. He had to wait a year before his credentials were in order to enroll at St. Cloud State, a Division I hockey school in central Minnesota that has spawned a number of NHL players.
Parrish spent two seasons in the United Hockey League before joining the Generals last season. He and Rochelle, his college sweetheart, have two children.
"Weiland is in kindergarten and recently decided to start playing hockey," Parrish said. "Ruby is two. I spent a good bit of time with them when Rochelle is teaching aerobic kick boxing or yoga. When I can find a few extra moments, I like to strum a guitar."
Unlike a number of ECHL veterans who are pushing 30, Parrish isn't ready to give up his passion for the game.
"I'd be lying if I said I didn't want a chance to move up to a higher level," he said. "Realistically, that may or may not be an option at my age. But I think I'm capable of playing in the AHL or maybe even the NHL. I still love the game too much to quit."
In the meantime, Parrish is consumed by the current playoff race.
"The pressure is fun, but it's also straight-out nerve-wracking," he said. "You think how you should be locked into the playoffs if it weren't for some games you should've won but let slip away.
"It could go down to the last game (Saturday at South Carolina). That'll be what we call a 'Gong Show.' Loser goes home. It'll be blood and guts."
Contact Larry Keech at 373-7080 or email@example.com