It was a sight to behold.
Anaheim Ducks right winger George Parros, known for his muscle and moustache as much as his hockey-playing ability, skated in on a first-period breakaway and whipped a high wrist shot past the glove of Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Vesa Toskala.
“It was a great feeling,” said Parros, who collected his second goal in seven NHL games this season as his Ducks nipped the host Leafs 3-2 in a shootout on Tuesday night.
It’s not a feeling that Parros experiences very often. The native of Washington, Pa., entered the game against Toronto with five goals, 12 points and 435 penalty minutes in 164 career NHL contests. The six-foot-three, 231-pound pugilist already has tied his career high for goals in a season; he scored twice in 55 games as a Los Angeles Kings rookie in 2005-06.
“The thing about George is, you never have to tell him anything more than once,” said Ducks coach Randy Carlyle. “He’s involved in the game, he takes pride in his positioning, he takes pride in defending his teammates … He’s a tough customer.
“But again, you have to be able to trust these players when you throw them over the boards …(sometimes) that player will have to defend against other teams’ top offensive lines.”
So far this season, that hasn’t been a problem for Parros. While playing about seven minutes a night on Anaheim’s fourth line, Parros has managed to compile a plus-4 rating in seven games to tie for the team lead with linemate Brad May.
“I’m always happy to play the game and be a guy who can hold his own, not just be a fighter,” said Parros, who has fought twice this season after dropping the gloves 23 times in 69 games last year.
“I like my role here and the more ice time I get, the happier I am.”‘
And Carlyle continues to be pleased with Parros’s work ethic and willingness to play within his abilities.
“He’s been good along the wall, he knows his responsibility, he keeps his shift length to a minimum so he can play at a high pace,” said the Ducks coach.
“We always knew he had a big-time wrist shot and he’s been working on it, taking extra shots with our goalies. He’s been rewarded for his hard work and he hasn’t disappointed our team this year..”
Parros, a Princeton grad who spent two seasons in the American Hockey League – where he racked up 247 penalty minutes in 67 games with Manchester in 2004-05 – was drafted 222nd overall by Los Angeles in 1999. After four years at Princeton – with never more than 38 penalty minutes in a 30-plus game NCAA season – Parros realized he would have to become an enforcer if he wanted to make it to the NHL.
And he has, with nearly 60 fights in 165 NHL games. But he’s accomplished other things, too, like winning a Stanley Cup with the Ducks in 2007. Parros played in five playoff games that spring.
He knows his prime role is to protect his teammates, but that doesn’t mean the big guy can’t dream a little, too.
“I just try to take some shots and get some goals.”