Skating on new Ice, Colton Parayko’s journey from Nanooks to Blues

By Jessica Herzog
Sun Star Reporter

Maybe you’ve seen all six feet five inches of him speeding across the ice at a Nanooks’ hockey game, but soon you’ll be watching St. Louis Blues games to catch sight of UAF junior Colton Parayko.  According to an Alaska Nanooks men’s hockey news article, Parayko signed a two-year entry level contract with the Colton_ParaykoBlues, a NHL hockey team from Missouri.

This is one more success after being named Western Collegiate Hockey Association Defensive Player of the Year and being voted as the Nanooks’ Team Captain. Parayko has been a “tremendous player,” proud to represent the Nanooks and he does so with class, Dallas Ferguson, Nanooks hockey coach said. But what is the path that led him to UAF, and ultimately, signing with the Blues?

Parayko started skating when he was five and has played for 17 years, he said in an interview. Parayko grew up in St. Albert in Alberta, Canada, and “played on numerous amounts of teams growing up,” he said. He’s played road hockey and skated at an outdoor rink during recess. After turning 19, he moved to Fairbanks to attend college and continue playing hockey.

Parayko decided he enjoyed UAF immensely after a summer visit to the school.

“The coaching staff was very good when they were recruiting me,” he said. Additionally, Parayko likes smaller cities and the resemblance Fairbanks’ size has to that of St. Albert.

“Who doesn’t want to go to Alaska?” he said.

Once here at UAF, Parayko began his major in business administration and became a Nanooks hockey team member. His daily routine is to wake up, go to a few classes and then head to the rink for practice and a workout. Afterwards, the classes continue or Parayko and his teammates make dinner. Then, the schedule repeats. However, hockey is not mundane.

There are lots of challenging parts of hockey.

“There are a lot of ups and downs throughout a season that you need to make sure you handle properly,” Parayko said. This means working hard to overcome the challenges, but “it is rewarding working with a group of guys throughout a season for wins and eventually a championship.” He is a “tremendous person” with a strong will to learn and his work ethic is “second to none,” Ferguson said.

This determined attitude led Parayko to where he is today. Signing the contract is a major milestone. Despite leaving UAF early, “It is a dream of every kid to sign an NHL contract, so it was an incredible feeling,” he said.

“I’m always disappointed when a player leaves school before graduating, but this is a tremendous opportunity for Colton and his hockey career,” Ferguson said,  “This is the next step for him to make his dream of playing in the National Hockey League a reality.”

Leaving the hockey “group of guys” has never crossed Parayko’s mind. Picturing life without hockey, “doesn’t look good.” He is so devoted to the sport that he will continue classes while playing for the Blues and will finish his degree in about a year.

Parayko’s goal has been playing in the NHL. He wants to play hockey, move to Europe to play more hockey, and eventually start his own business, he said. As a business owner, he really misses the game. He will try his hand at coaching hockey, he said. One thing is certain though, returning players will help carry the leadership load while the Nanooks move forward, Ferguson said, while Parayko excels with his new team.

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