On the surface, Saturday night was a 4-3 New York Islanders overtime win over the last-place Columbus Blue Jackets, another game in which the Islanders had to come back. But Saturday was more than just a game, especially for the overtime hero, New York Islanders forward Zach Parise.
Saturday night was Hockey Fights Cancer Night at UBS Arena, as it was an emotional night for everyone. The New York Islanders honored Clark Gillies, Jean Potvin, and Mike Bossy, as all three lost their battles with the horrific disease over a three-month time frame in 2022. The Islanders also honored the brave men, women, and children currently battling this heinous disease and whose lives were lost.
Cancer has affected all of us in some way, shape, or form, and if you do not know anyone who has had cancer, you are fortunate.
For New York Islanders forward Zach Parise, Saturday was a day of remembrance. His father and former New York Islanders forward J.P. Parise (1975-1978) passed away from lung cancer at the age of 73 back in 2015.
It was a perfect night for Parise to be the hero for the Islanders, as his overtime shift illustrated why Parise has been able to play this game for as long as he has.
Zack Parise started the overtime frame along with forward Jean-Gabriel Pageau and defenseman Adam Pelech. Thirty seconds into overtime, Pageau moved through the neutral zone in transition. Zach Parise realized that if he could get up the ice quickly, the Islanders would have a two-on-one going the other way.
As Parise tried to get up the ice, he was interfered with by Columbus Blue Jackets forward Patrick Laine. The referees caught Laine and had their hand raised for the delayed penalty, but Parise did not give up on the play.
He found open space and made no mistake after Pageau fed him in the slot.
“The goal is scored, I think, because of will, his work ethic,” New York Islanders head coach Lane Lambert said. “He’s getting held. He draws a penalty, but he still finds enough to break through that and become a pass option, and it was a great play by him.”
For Zach, that goal was his fifth goal of the season and his first overtime winner as a member of the New York Islanders.
Following the game, Zach spoke about his dad.
My mind starts to wander a little bit on these nights when you see those three kids drop the puck before the game… it’s an emotional time,” Zach Parise said. “For me personally, it’s the illusion of losing my dad to that. It can be a pretty sad day.”
The three brave boys that Parise alluded to were Owen Shouldice, Henry Schafer, and Mason Maier, who took part in the ceremonial puck drop as they continue their heroic battle with cancer.
Saturday night was not the first time Zach Parise scored a big goal to honor his dad.
On Dec. 11, 2021, his dad’s birthday, Parise scored his first goal as a member of the New York Islanders, which came shorthanded against his former team, the New Jersey Devils.
“There’s not a day that really goes by that I don’t think about him,” Parise said following that game. “What he did for me as a person and as a player. … It was pretty emotional when that puck went in, of course, my mind goes right to him.”
For young players, Zach Parise is the player they should watch.
Over his 18 years in the NHL, Parise has been the same player. People always discuss his age, 38, and think he is not the same player he once was. Maybe the goal totals have dropped a bit, but his work ethic has never wavered.
That’s why at age 38, Parise is still playing a strong brand of hockey, and it’s also the reason why he was able to score the overtime winner on a special night in Elmont.
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