Depth is key in the playoff rounds, after a grueling season, it can make all the difference if your team still has gas left in the tank in the 3rd period of a tight playoff game.
Parker came to El Paso just in time to board the bus for a road trip to Tulsa.
The first game out of the box didn’t go well as the Rhinos suffered their only regular season loss of the season.
The next night however saw Parker make his mark as a Rhino as he potted the game winning goal in overtime to avenge the previous night’s loss, set the Rhinos back on the winning track, and endear himself to his new teammates.
Parker, along with line mates Jeffery Schmudlach and Zach Goller, formed a third line that could have been a first line for any team in the WSHL including The Rhinos.
He is now taking his game to The University of Minnesota-Crookston
Below a short interview with Parker Harrison
Your path to El Paso was different than the other guys. Tell us how you made it here?
-Well my path was a lot different, I started off the year in Colorado playing for the Outlaws in the same league and division as the Rhinos. From August until late January, I was there and relatively happy with the team. Toward the end of my stay there our team started to struggle and lose any hope of winning our division and going on to the League Championships. Seeing this, my coach up there, and Cory down here, saw it in the best interest of both organizations to make a trade for me (being an 87 and playing my last year of juniors) to bring someone who had more experience to a team that had a more realistic shot at the League Championship and a National Title, and send 2 younger guys to a team that’s in their first year in the league and have a little while to develop in that organization over time.
What were your feelings about the trade?
-At first I was really upset that I was having to leave all my friends and family and move down to a strange place alone (not to mention I thought that everyone on the Rhinos, including their fans, didn’t really care for me too much). Haha But, after I got here and met the guys and talked to Cory for a bit, I came to love it very much and don’t regret making the move at all.
You were a thorn in the sides of the Rhinos each time you played against them. You seemed to change your style of play some when you got to El Paso.
Less of an agitator.
Why is that?
-Well when I was on Colorado my role was to score goals, lead, make plays, provide physical presence, and take the other team off their games. When I got down to El Paso I realized that they already had role players that played a more physical game, lead their team to battle, and got in the heads of the opposition (Billy Krueger), so that left me a lot more room to focus on other parts of my game a little more.
Were you accepted right away or did you have to win the guys over?
-Well at this level of hockey, no one is ever accepted right away (especially if you’re the leading scorer from one of the only teams that’s beaten you all season). Because, like you said before about me being more of an agitator, that made me regret it a little bit at this point. But I got over it, I showed up, I played my game, and I just tried to be as natural and genuine with all the guys as most I could. Next thing I knew, I was a Rhino, thru and thru!
You made a big splash right away with an OT game winner at Tulsa.
When did you feel like you had settled in as a Rhino?
-I think you hit it exactly! My first game was kind of a bust because it was the Rhino’s first regulation loss of the year, but in that second game when I scored that goal and saw all the boys sprinting toward me off the bench with huge smiles, I think that’s the moment I knew I had become a Rhino!
Was it, and if so how, difficult was it to play your old team right after the trade and in the first round of playoffs?
-Surprising it was not difficult at all to play my old team so soon. I still had really good relationships with all those guys and no hard feelings about the trade with anyone at that point. So playing them was actually quite a pleasure because that meant I got to see old friends and it also helped that I knew a thing or 2 about how to score a couple more goals on the defensemen and goalies. Haha
Would you have changed the way things played out for you in what was your last eligible year of Juniors?
-Not at all! Maybe an earlier trade from Colorado? Haha. Oh and a National Championship would have been nice too!
You were here for a short but exciting time, were you able to get a pretty good feel of Coach Herman and what he wanted out of you as a player?
-I did get a good feel for Cory. He had good system defensively that was to the point and relatively simple to perform. And offensively, he’s very supportive of letting his players be creative with the puck. I liked his coaching style very much and was really impressed with the amount of respect and trust he had for each and every guy.
Did you rub in your championship to your old teammates in Colorado?
-Haha ya I did a little but those guys were really happy for me and they didn’t really give me much of chance because they didn’t really have much jealousy in them, it was mostly praise. They all said we rightfully deserved and earned that title.
What other schools were you being recruited by?
-Robert Morris, Salve Regina, Lebanon Valley, Westfield State, and Minnesota Crookston were the 5 offers I got throughout the year.
What made you decide on Crookston?
-Well my biggest factors this year when it came to choosing a school was finances and coaching. Crookston was not only the least expensive of the 5 schools, but also had the coach that I got along with the most.
Was Coach Herman or Trevor Converse involved in your recruitment to Crookston?
-Actually they were not. When I arrived in El Paso I already had an established relationship with Crookston and their coach. Cory and Trevor did get me 2 of the other 4 offers, but at that point I had basically already had my mind made up about UMC.
Has the coaching staff told you where they see you in the mix of the team?
-At this point in time, Crookston is in a rebuilding stage. That means they have a lot of young players and they said that they want to insert me straight into the line up next year and do exactly what I did this year, make plays, score goals, and grow and develop as a young, skilled team.
Where do you think your biggest hurdle will be, on the ice or in the classroom?
-I think they will both be about the same for me actually. I have always had decent success in the classroom and on the ice, at times I may find myself a little lost in both places but I always seem to adapt and overcome. I just really hope to continue that kind of attitude and mentality over these next 4 years as well.
Any regrets about how your season went?
-Just one, no National Championship!
Would you change anything?
-Not a thing!
“Parker along with Tad Norris were the 2 players we targeted as “must haves” when we started putting together our playoff and Nationals team.
Parker plays with his head up, he’s defensively solid, and not afraid to pay the price offensively.”
“His speed, grit and puck handling are what really attracted us to him to be the “missing” forward on our team.”
“I couldn’t have asked for a better fit with Parker, he came in, found his place with the team and went out and did his job. He was a great pick up for us.”
“Parker is a team guy, he came from a team where he was the leading scorer and top power play and penalty kill.
He didn’t say a word when he got here about ice time; he just found his niche within the framework of the team and started to contribute right away.”
-Cory Herman – Head Coach El Paso Rhinos
“We were looking for a skilled kid, with speed, and some edge to him, we had the role players in place, we just needed a little more fire power deep in the line up and with Harry (Parker Harrison) and Schmuddy (Jeffery Schmudlach), we knew teams were going to have a lot of problem matching up with that much speed, and offensive depth.”
-Trevor Converse – El Paso Rhinos Director of Player Personnel