In one sense, Chicago Wolves rookie defenseman Colton Parayko still has one boot in Alaska.
Though he turned pro on March 10, which meant he gave up his final year of college eligibility with the Alaska Nanooks, Parayko didn’t give up on his education as he remained enrolled in four semester-long courses.
The Business Finance major budgets time each week to study for his classes in Financial Institutions, Financial Management, Operations Management, and Money and Banking. He even took his books on the road when the Wolves traveled to Ontario for a pair of games last week.
“I like numbers,” Parayko said. “If I can keep taking my Finance classes online like I am now, then I’ll finish up in the next couple years.”
Parayko likes putting up numbers on the ice as well. He made his Wolves debut on March 15 – just eight days after playing his final game for the Nanooks – and has proven to be a quick study at the American Hockey League level.
The 6-foot-5, 218-pound rookie has delivered 3 goals, 2 assists and a +8 plus/minus rating in 11 professional appearances – and the Wolves have won eight of those games.
“It’s been really good,” Parayko said. “The guys have been incredible to me. Everyone has different advice. Some of it is about life and some about hockey. It’s been a great experience personally. Everyone has opened their arms to me and brought me in really well.”
“He has jumped into a situation where we’ve had to win right away and we’ve had to play him a lot right away,” said Wolves head coach John Anderson. “He was used to playing two games a week. The intensity is ramped up. He has had to ramp up everything. I think it caught up to him a little bit last week, but he’s still great out there.”
Parayko’s legion of fans in Alaska could have told Anderson how great the St. Albert, Alberta, native happens to be. At the Nanooks’ postseason banquet, Parayko earned a team-high four awards: Top Defenseman, Team Player, Most Dedicated Player and Fan’s Choice.
The affable Parayko claims not to know why he became a fan favorite, but there’s no question it’s the truth. A quick check of Google Analytics shows that the Chicago Wolves website has enjoyed a 600 percent increase in hits from Alaska during Parayko’s first month with the team.
“It’s really cool to see them following me like that,” Parayko said. “I’m getting texts almost every day from people asking how I’m doing. A couple fans reached out to me on Facebook. It’s been a pretty cool experience.”