Having joined the Guelph Gryphons as a 26 year old, Amanda Parkins had a season to remember. Her 44 points and 19 goals led all skaters in Ontario University Athletics competition, while leading Guelph to a sparkling 21-3-2 finish in the regular season. Parkins came to the squad with great credentials.
Along with Jessica Pinkerton and Christine Grant (the 2013 Canadian Interuniversity Sport Rookie of the Year), Parkins was part of a remarkable youth movement for the Gryphons. She would rank third overall in the CIS scoring race, while Pinkerton finished fifth and Grant was ninth. The titanic trio would accumulate 112 points combined.
Her tenure in the Canadian Women’s Hockey League brought with it great memories. On December 14, 2008, Parkins had the opportunity to compete in a unique exhibition game at Copps Coliseum, site of the 1987 Canada Cup. She was part of a group of CWHL All-Stars who competed against NHL alumni.
Joining Parkins on the CWHL All-Star Team from the Barracudas were Becky Kellar, Jana Harrigan, Lindsay Vine and Tania Pinelli. Some of the NHL alumni that participated included Paul Coffey (member of the Hockey Hall of Fame), Mark Napier, the late Bob Probert, Gary Leeman, Dan Daoust and Dale Hawerchuk (former Calder Trophy winner).
“It was an honor to be able to play with the CWHL All-Stars with such talented players and many of them being players with Team Canada. It was an exciting opportunity and a lot of fun to play against such talented NHL alumni. At the same time it was a bit intimidating lining up against guys that are well over 6 feet, considering I am only 5'2".”
One of her career highlights with the Burlington Barracudas came on December 4, 2009. Parkins returned to the lineup after suffering a broken bone in her hand during exhibition play. Two months after sustaining the injury, her return was an impressive one. She logged two scores as Burlington prevailed over the Vaughan Flames by a 4-2 tally.
Parkins' final season in the CWHL came in 2011-12, which was also the final season for the Barracudas. In 14 games played during that campaign, she managed to rank seventh on the team in scoring. Although Burlington finished with the worst record in the league, there were many lessons learned.
“It was a tough year in Burlington in my final season and it was quite disappointing. We were a talented team, but we just weren't able to make things click. I think the biggest lesson learned is to never give up and to keep playing your best every game and practice. It's easy to always stay motivated when you are winning and on top, but when you lose several games or in this case all but one game, you have to keep pushing yourself to be better every practice and game.”
“I feel like it made me strive to be a better player, making sure I am giving it my all every shift and every game. Considering the talent level in the CWHL is so high, if you take a shift or several shifts, players will make you pay.”
Among other accomplishments in her storied career, Parkins also participated in the World Inline Hockey Championships. Helping the Canadian national team win a gold medal at the 2011 World Championships, it was a remarkable achievement for her.
“I have been involved with Team Canada Inline Hockey for the past two years and this year will be my third year with the team. It is an unbelievable experience that I have been fortunate enough to be involved with.”
“The honor of being able to represent your country alone is a memorable experience and winning the gold medal last summer, I would say is the highlight of both my ice hockey and inline hockey career. It is hard to place anything as high as winning the gold medal while representing your country.”
Having joined the Gryphons in autumn 2012, the move paid remarkable dividends for the program. Playing for head coach Rachel Flanagan (a former member of the Great Britain national team, and a coach with the Hockey Canada program), Parkins brought experience and acumen to the roster.
A strong performance on November 21, 2012 was the coming-out party for Parkins. In a 7-1 victory over the Brock Badgers, Parkins logged a hat trick (including the game winning goal) as part of a superlative four-point display. It was just one of an astounding 14 multipoint performances on the season.
In late January 2013, Parkins made a huge statement in a game against the Queens Golden Gaels. With both squads nationally ranked (Queens was ranked sixth in the nation, while Guelph was ranked eighth), Parkins scored twice and added two helpers in a 7-2 victory. She would add two assists for the squad’s eleventh straight win of the campaign. Despite such a strong season, she reflects on it with great humility.
“I was a little surprised with the successful season I had. It is hard to have expectations of yourself when you are coming into a season with a new team and teammates. I was fortunate enough to play with some great players, which allowed me to have the success that I did.”
After her remarkable season, she was given the 2013 OUA Player of the Year Award. Other accolades soon followed, including OUA First-Team All-Star and OUA All-Rookie Team honors, respectively. A finalist for the Brodrick Trophy (awarded to the MVP in CIS women’s hockey), she was named a First Team All-Canadian.
“It was an honor to receive such a high recognition in being named the OUA player of the year award. It is great to have individual success; however, I would not have been as successful as I was without my teammates and coaching staff that helped me to reach such levels and pushed me to be better each game and practice.”
With such a strong 2012-13 season, the opportunity to represent Canada is very possible. As the 2013 World Winter University Games will be contested in December, she could be named to the Canadian women’s hockey team (made up exclusively of CIS players),
“However, any time you have the opportunity to represent your Country and in this case represent your school as well, it is a great privilege and honor. So if I was fortunate enough to receive this opportunity I would be excited to be able to play in such an event.”
“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”