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Syracuse high school hockey coach suits up for Crunch

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: Syracuse high school hockey coach suits up for Crunch
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SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- John Parks was taking his son to a hockey tournament Saturday when the call came in from the Syracuse Crunch asking what his schedule was like.

The Crunch were four hours away from faceoff, and had just one healthy goalie.

"We had a little bit of a frantic day with so many moving parts and goalies up, down, and everywhere," said Crunch General Manager Jim Sarosy.

Everywhere but Syracuse. After sorting through their options, the 46-year-old Parks became their No. 1 option.

"About 45 minutes later I called him and, I think it was something like, 'How would you like to get a paycheck from the Tampa Bay Lightning?'" Sarosy recalled.

It didn't take Parks, a Christian Brothers Academy assistant hockey coach, long to answer with yes.

"Now I'm amped up a little bit with the nerves making sure I pack and don't forget anything. And also that I get [to the rink] and get the contract signed before something fixes itself with the other goaltender, and I'm out," Parks said.

Parks received a one-day contract for $300, his own game jersey hanging in the locker room and a arm welcome from his much-younger teammates.

"Above his stall will say 'new guy' will be the name on the nameplate. We didn't have time to make a John Parks nameplate. One of the guys walked by and said, 'Just be happy it doesn't say old guy...as opposed to new guy,'" Sarosy said.

Unfortunately, the only time Parks hit the ice was during warmups, enough time to take a few photos. But, Parks said if the team got up by four goals, the plan was to put him in net.

"It would've been awesome. It's a dream," he said. "Anytime you're doing something like this you always think about, 'Oh, that'd be great.' And I was pretty close," Parks said.

And if the need should arise, both Parks and the Crunch said they wouldn't hesitate to try it again.

"His first pro contract at age 46? He has a paycheck from the Tampa Bay Lightning as an athlete. And not many hockey people can say that," said Sarosy.

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