by Matt Mackinder
As one of the Toledo Cherokee’s assistant captains, Parker Hack said it’s one of his jobs to keep the younger players abreast of what junior hockey is all about. He also wants to keep improving his overall game to wind up playing in college or at the NAHL level in the near future.
Hack, who skated 37 games on defense with the Cherokee last season, wound up with the team last year after getting noticed at a New Mexico Mustangs’ NAHL camp in Woodhaven, Mich. “I went to try out for New Mexico and (Toledo assistant coach) Chris Tarsha was there and we talked a little bit after the camp,” said Hack. “I told him I was from the Toledo area (Maumee) and then he invited me to the pre-draft camp, which I went to, and then they drafted me. Playing in your hometown is a good set up. You don’t have to move away and you can still go to school with your friends and see your family.”Drafted out of the Allen Park Huskies U16 team, Hack joined the Cherokee last year with Allen Park teammates Andrew Benyo and Brian Bachnak.
“I learned right away that the NA3 is faster, stronger and bigger than midget hockey,” said Hack. “Last year was interesting, but definitely going in and knowing a couple teammates helped me a lot.”
This year, Toledo is a respectable 8-7-0-1 in the East Division, good for third place behind Cleveland and Flint. Hack feels it’s only a matter of time before the Cherokee gets on a roll and starts to play at its 31-15-1-1 pace of a year ago, when it finished first in the North Division.
“We have a very young team, but we are playing well,” Hack said. “Last year, it was about half rookies and half veterans, but there are so many more rookies this season. For me personally, it’s been an easy transition getting back into the swing of things and as a second-year guy, I want to have a more present orce out there and bring the rookies up to speed. “I’m a captain, but I pretty much go out and lead by example. I leave all the talking to our captain, Donnie Nagle.”
On his outlook for the rest of the season, Hack said that being a defenseman, he’s not looking to break any scoring records, but he just wants to keep the game simple. “I think one thing we are teaching the younger guys is to just keep working hard, take care of themselves and not exert too much energy on any one shift,” explained Hack. “If we do that, I think we will continue to win games and get points and hopefully, move up in the standings.”
Past this season, Hack’s options are still “up in the air.”
“I don’t have any specific plans for next year,” admitted Hack. “I could go play juniors in Canada, where my dad is from, I could play in the NAHL or I could go to college. I’m not thinking about it too much right now, but it’s always good to have options.”
Right now, the Cherokee is happy to have Hack where he belongs.