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Parizek excited for All-Star experience

Friday, January 5th
Parizek excited for All-Star experience

Through the first 34 games of the ECHL season, the Steelheads knew firsthand that they had a special player in rookie forward Justin Parizek. Steelhead fans knew it as well, watching Parizek post 24 points in his first 27 professional contests. With the announcement of rosters on Thursday for the CCM/ECHL All-Star Classic, it’s clear that the rest of the league is taking notice of Idaho’s first-year sniper, too.

Parizek was the lone Steelhead selected to represent Idaho in the ECHL’s showcase event on January 15th in Indianapolis, selected in a vote by coaches, general managers, team captains, and media members throughout the league. It puts a bow on a solid first-half for the former captain at the University of Nebraska-Omaha, who has been among the Steelheads’ most dependable producers over the last three months.

“He comes on the ice early and stays on late. He’s a professional, and when you see a guy get rewarded for the amount of effort and pride he takes in his craft, that’s what it’s about,” said Steelheads Head Coach Neil Graham. “He’s had a good first half of the season, and he’s going to keep pushing and improving to be that much better in the second half.”

While he has been a Steelheads fixture on most nights, he wasn’t in Boise when he first learned he was headed to his first professional All-Star game. At the time he was in San Jose, where he was playing on a professional tryout contract with the Barracuda.

“I got notice from Coach Graham that I was coming back to Boise, but he also told me right then that I was going to the All-Star Game,” said Parizek. “I was excited already to come back and finding out about the All-Star Game made it even better.”

“I was in my hotel room with my roommate Emerson Clark (of the Jacksonville IceMen), and he was excited for me. But he was the only guy I could celebrate with until I got back.”

His teammates could congratulate him in person when he met them in Utah prior to New Year’s Day, which was when Parizek could tip his hat to them as well.

“A lot of the credit goes to my teammates. We’ve had an unbelievable team this year and that has helped my success,” said Parizek. “My linemates have been great and we’ve been winning a lot of games. I think we’re one of the top teams still in the ECHL, and all the credit goes to them.”

Parizek himself has had plenty to do with it, as one glance at the ECHL rookie leaderboards would tell you. Parizek ranks fourth in goals, tied for third in power play goals, and ninth in points among rookies, despite missing seven of Idaho’s games this year.

“I’m a lot more comfortable now. When you first get here, you have to prove yourself to teammates and to coach and everyone else,” said Parizek. “You’re kind of on your heels, especially as a rookie. I’m a lot more comfortable now and my confidence has grown, but I still feel that I can grow a lot more this year.”

The new 3-on-3 tournament format will place Parizek on the same team with players he’s usually battling against, with Allen’s David Makowski and Colorado’s Michael Joly skating alongside him, as are others. Despite the initial adjustments of foes becoming friends, and figuring out where his heavy shot will factor into the skills competition, Parizek won’t be concerning himself too much with the X’s and O’s heading into the showcase.

“In an All-Star Game, as much as you want to perform, it’s also about the experience,” said Parizek. “You want to go and enjoy it because you don’t know how many times you’ll get to be a part of it. It’s definitely a blessing.”

It’s a blessing that Graham knows is well deserved for his player, and one that can fuel him towards an even stronger second half of the season.

“He’s very driven and he has an incredible work ethic. He’s a good skater and his shot is very good. If he gets time and space in an area of the ice where he can release his shot, good things typically happen for him,” said Graham.

“As a first year guy to be honored going to an All-Star Game, it’s not surprising and it’s well deserved. We’re proud of him.”

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