Alyssa Parke’s college hockey adjustment period lasted about half an hour. Nine minutes into the second period of SUNY Plattsburgh’s conference opener against SUNY Potsdam, the Lynbrook native scored the first goal of both her college career and the Cardinals season.
“It was a pretty cool feeling,” Parke said.
The goal acted as an impressive start to what would become a notable freshman campaign and a great year for Plattsburgh. The Cardinals finished the regular season 17-5-3 and only lost one game in the East Coast Athletic Conference (ECAC). Parke netted five goals in her first trip around the NCAA ranks, and she was named to the ECAC West All-Rookie team, one of only five freshmen to be honored.
Plattsburgh will face the Oswego Lakers in Saturday’s ECAC West semi-final. A win over the Lakers followed by a victory in the Conference Championship Game on Sunday would send Parke and her teammates to the NCAA D-III tournament.
“If we play our game, I have a good feeling that we can win,” Parke said.
Parke started playing Lynbrook roller hockey when she was five years old, planting the seeds for what has become a very rewarding career. After learning the game on roller skates, she took her talents to the ice.
“My dad took me and my brother to play ice hockey in Long Beach, where we played every Saturday morning,” Parke said. “I started playing on a boys travel team.”
Once she got older, Parke joined the Long Island Waves - a local girl’s hockey organization.
Parke spent her elementary and middle school years in the Lynbrook School District. She attended and Middle School. After completing eighth and ninth grade at Fort Lidge Prep School in Locust Valley, Parke traveled to Lake Placid and honed her skills at the National Sports Academy, a private high school that focuses of both academics and high level athletics.
“You went to school from 1 p.m. to 6:15 p.m. and spent every morning playing hockey on the ice,” Parke said.
Like many high-level high school athletes, Parke had multiple colleges interested in adding her skills. She was very close to choosing Connecticut College before deciding to join the Cardinals.
“I really liked the coach, the school, and the area,” Parke said of Plattsburgh.
That coach, Kevin Houle, has left quite an impression on Parke during their first season together.
“He pushes you all the time, but he’s such a nice guy,” Parke said.
Parke’s first few practices as an NCAA athlete were a bit daunting. She needed to adjust to the speed of play, something that only took a few weeks of practice to figure out.
“Before we could actually get on the ice with our coaches, we started with captain’s practice,” Parke said. “We just scrimmaged for a couple weeks. That helped me adjust.”
Adjust she has - Parke amassed 20 points this season while finding her defensive niche. Not bad for a freshman.