Long before George Parros
and James van Riemsdyk
became prominent NHL figures, they were learning the ropes within the New Jersey high school hockey ranks.
Those lessons learned have certainly paid off. At a ceremony on Sunday at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J., the former scholastic stars will be inducted into the New Jersey High School Hockey Hall of Fame.
Parros of the Anaheim Ducks
and van Riemsdyk of the Philadelphia Flyers
are two of only six players to play high school hockey in the Garden State and move on to have successful NHL careers.
Parros is currently in his seventh NHL season and sixth with the Ducks. In 409 career games, he's produced 17 goals, 33 points and a whopping 928 penalty minutes. According to hockeyfights.com, he was involved in a career-high 27 fights in 2010-11 and has dropped the gloves nine times this season.
"I'm definitely honored to be inducted," Parros told NHL.com.
Right Wing - ANA
GOALS: 1 | ASST: 3 | PTS: 4
SOG: 17 | +/-: 2
Parros was one of the best forwards in New Jersey in 1997-98 for Delbarton School in Morristown, N.J. He finished with 31 goals and 52 points that season to help lead the Green Wave to a berth in the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association Non-Public final.
Parros was drafted by the Los Angeles Kings
in 1999, but before going professional went on to play hockey at Princeton University for four years. He was named captain his senior year in 2002-03. He majored in economics and was recently named one of the smartest athletes by The Sporting News.
"I still have fond memories playing high school hockey for Delbarton … this is where I played most of my hockey when I was young so I have tons of great memories playing with the New Jersey Colonials and the Junior Devils for a bit," he said. "I was at a reception for Delbarton alumni recently and it was great seeing everyone again … it's definitely close to my heart out here."
The 6-foot-5, 232-pound Parros even owns a Stanley Cup ring he received as a member of the 2006-07 Anaheim Mighty Ducks.
Ironically, it was during the 2007 Stanley Cup Playoffs when van Riemsdyk first met Parros, when the former was on his media tour with a few of the top prospects eligible for the '07 Draft.
"I'm not sure if he would remember me, but I did bring up the tie we shared with his playing at Delbarton and me at Christian Brothers Academy in the high school ranks," van Riemsdyk told NHL.com. "It's pretty cool to be inducted in the same class … he's had a great career and I've heard a lot of great things about him as a person off the ice."
Van Riemsdyk started playing hockey at an early age for the Brick Hockey Club down the Jersey shore. He starred two seasons at Christian Brothers in Lincroft, where he earned All-State as a sophomore in 2004-05 after registering 36 goals and 60 points in 30 games. His breakaway goal with 6:17 remaining in overtime in the 2005 NJSIAA Non-Public final gave CBA a dramatic 2-1 decision over Delbarton.
Left Wing - PHI
GOALS: 11 | ASST: 13 | PTS: 24
SOG: 121 | +/-: -1
"That was a huge thrill," van Riemsdyk said. "We came together as a team really well and just seemed to have a great group of guys, not only on the ice, but off it as well. I had the best of both worlds when I was younger since I had coach Mike Reynolds (CBA), who developed my skill, and coach Alex DePalma (Brick Hockey Club), who instilled that fire inside me that you need to play this game."
He eventually joined the U.S. National Team Development Program in Ann Arbor, Mich., and in 2007 was drafted No. 2 by the Philadelphia Flyers
, but elected to play two years of college hockey at the University of New Hampshire.
The 6-foot-3, 200-pound forward is in his third season with the Flyers. In 196 career games, he has compiled 47 goals, 99 points and a plus-13 rating. Van Riemsdyk, who has been sidelined since March 1 after suffering a broken bone in his left foot against the New York Islanders
, has 11 goals and 24 points in 43 contests in 2011-12. He hopes to return to the ice in three to four weeks, depending on what the next X-ray reveals.
Because of their busy schedules, van Riemsdyk and Parros won't be available to attend the ceremony on Sunday, but they are extremely grateful nonetheless.
"I look back on my time playing high school hockey and while growing up, my goal was just to make the varsity team at CBA," van Riemsdyk said. "I remember going to all their games and watching coach Mike Reynolds. He was the guy who taught me how to play hockey. I wanted to play for them, play with all my friends and play in front of a lot of my friends who I grew up that went to school there. It will always be one of my fondest hockey memories."
The N.J. High School Ice Hockey Hall of Fame was established in 2009 to formally honor the contributions of the many outstanding players, coaches, teams and contributors to New Jersey high school ice hockey.
In addition to Parros and van Riemsdyk, the N.J. High School Hockey Hall of Fame Committee will also induct players Bob Cielo (CBA), Frank McKevitt (Brick High School), Anthony Del Gaizo (Montclair-Kimberley Academy), Lars Johansson (Montclair High School), John Vlachos (Morristown-Beard School), Dave Williams
(Chatham High School) and Chip Grabowski (West Essex High School); player/coach Mike Giampapa (West Essex); coaches Ed Purdy (Livingston, West Essex), John Magadini (Delbarton, Pingry School) and Rich McLaughlin (Randolph High School); contributor Kenneth B. Gordon, Harold Handchen and Harold Van Cott; New Jersey official Vincent Godleski, who currently serves as an off-ice official for the New Jersey Devils
; and teams St. Joseph of Montvale (1983-84) and Seton Hall Prep of West Orange (1997-98).
Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale