Having contributed to a pair of gold medals, achieved in international play, both with the iconic Canadian Maple Leaf emblazoned on her jersey, glories attained represent a significant component of Amanda Parkins’ hockey legacy. From gold in women’s ice hockey at the Winter Universiade, establishing a new facet to Canada’s international dominance in the game, along with another triumphant outcome at the World Inline Hockey Championships, the level of success represents a great breadth of talent, while exemplifying the potential to reach significant heights in other aspects of the game.
In a season that also saw the Midget A Lady Rangers capture the Stratford Festival Cup Challenge, while recent NCAA graduate Laura Coxon returned to her local roots, serving on the coaching staff of the Lady Rangers Novice B team, the Senior A version of the Lady Rangers were just as stellar. Averaging more than a point per game, Parkins would play a significant role in a memorable season.
With the 2016-17 season marking their first in the Golden Horseshoe Women’s Hockey League, they would finish second overall in the regular season standings. Challenging the first place London Devilettes for the postseason crown, goals by Michele Strudwick, Alanah Walls, Parkins and Janna Harbin resulted in a 4-1 triumph
Capturing the 2017 OWHA Senior A Championship, an event somewhat akin to the Allan Cup in men’s senior hockey, Parkins added a third major championship to her hockey resume. Balancing Senior A Hockey with a courageous yet compassionate career as a paramedic, Parkins is proud, yet humble about her achievements, which stands among the qualities of her sterling character,
“Winning the OWHA Provincial Championship is a little different compared to winning gold with Canada Inline and the Winter Universiade. As with those I was representing Canada and it was on a larger stage. Although for me winning the Provincial championships, it is a greater accomplishment, as we were able to win it in back to back years, which is a feat that not too many teams are able to accomplish.”
With a love of the game that cannot be extinguished, Amanda Parkins has reached another accomplished pinnacle with the glory of a league championship in 2017 along with a pair of Senior A titles. In the aftermath of an exceptional run at the university level with the Guelph Gryphons, Parkins continues to establish herself as a local legend.
Remaining active at the club level, the presence of Parkins augments the offensive firepower of the Kitchener Lady Rangers. Retaining the drive to succeed, attaining victory and the subsequent thrill of achievement, Parkins’ superlative skills and smooth scoring touch have propelled the Lady Rangers into the elite of provincial Senior A hockey. Considering Parkins’ experiences in big game situations, especially on the international stage, her confident demeanor resulting in reaching the rarified air of championship glory, while remaining gracious enough to acknowledge that any glory is attributed to a solid team effort.
“I have played in quite a few big games over my career; my approach heading into the finals isn’t really any different than any other game. My main thing is to be focused and ready to play my game cause that is when I am most effective contributor to the team. No one specifically sought out advice from me.
On this team, we have all come from various teams growing up and all have plenty of experience from playing in big games. It also helps that our core group of players were a part of this team last year when we won our first provincial gold, so as a team we were experienced and could lean on each other.”
Contested at Westwood Arena in Etobicoke, Ontario, the first round of the 2017 OWHA Senior A playoffs consisted of three games for Parkins and the Lady Rangers. Starting with wins against the Barrie Sharks by a 4-1 tally and a 9-1 vcitory against the Brampton Canadettes, the third game resulted in a hard-fought 2-1 loss to the Westboro Ice Cats. After said loss, the Lady Rangers would ride a wave of winning, prevailing against all challengers.
Starting with a 3-0 blanking of the Oakville Hornets, the Lady Rangers proceeded to the quarterfinals. A match-up against the Scarborough Sharks resulted in the second straight shutout win, as the offense posted a pair of goals in a 2-0 final. Taking on the Hamilton Hawks in the semifinals, the sixth different opponent of the tournament, it saw the Lady Rangers punch their tickets to the gold medal game, defeating the Hawks by a close margin of victory, prevailing 3-2.
The 3-2 score would duplicate itself again, as the Lady Rangers defeated the Brantford Ice Cats by the same score. Parkins would prove to have an essential presence in this remarkable outcome, emerging as an offensive catalyst. In addition to scoring the Lady Rangers second goal of the game, she would also make her mark by logging the championship winning goal in overtime, only adding to the growing legacy of elite women’s ice hockey from Southwestern Ontario. Reflecting on the road to the second straight OWHA Senior A championship, Parkins humbly acknowledged that her contributions towards the title were attributed to leadership by example,
“I have never seen myself as being a vocal leader. Although I like to think that I lead when it comes to my play, whether it is by scoring a big goal or by creating opportunities and making a big play.”
Of note, there was a pair of unique elements that enhanced the euphoric jubilation. As mentioned, the fact that this was the second provincial championship, a very rare and special feat. Among her teammates with the Lady Rangers, there was a familiar face.
Rekindling the memories of the glory days donning the Guelph Gryphons colors, Parkins gained the opportunity to call Kandace Charbonneau a teammate once again. Raised in Guelph, Charbonneau spent five seasons (2009-14) with her hometown Gryphons, receiving an athletic scholarship, along with the Honor Award, recognizing her continuous leadership with the program.
Calling each other teammates twice with the Gryphons (winning a regular season title in 2014) and the Lady Rangers, it only strengthened the unbreakable bonds of friendship between them. Other OUA hockey alums part of the Lady Rangers included Ally Galloway of the Western Mustangs, Paula La Gamba and Kaitlyn McDonnell of the Waterloo Warriors, among others.
Undoubtedly, the presence of world-class players such as Parkins adds to the prestige of the championship and the increasing relevance, and simultaneously, the increasing quality, of club play at the OWHA Senior level. Finding great fulfillment in the opportunity to remain part of the game, the passion for the love of play rises to the surface, exemplifying what makes Parkins such a model teammate and admired competitor,
“What I enjoy most about still being able to play hockey is the mere fact that I am still able to play at a competitive level. I am fortunate with my work schedule, that I am able to manage both work and playing hockey. But for me the thing I enjoy the most is that I still have fun playing and I able to share the experience with some close friends.”
“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”
Images obtained from Facebook