MY TWIN CITIES: ZACH PARISE
Meet all-star NHL player and local Minnesotan, Zach Parise
By Claire Noack
Growing up in the “state of hockey” as the son of hockey legend J.P. Parisé, Zach Parise was born with hockey in his blood. After lacing up ice skates at the age of two and practicing on the pond in his backyard, he went on to play at Shattuck-St. Mary’s high school, known for producing copious NHL stars, and the University of North Dakota before skating onto the professional rink with the Albany River Rats. Parise represented the United States in the 2010 and 2014 Winter Olympics and played for the New Jersey Devils for seven years before returning home to the Minnesota Wild in 2012. With a humble demeanor and the confidence of a seasoned NHL pro, it’s easy to see how the Twin Cities native became Minnesota’s favorite hockey player.
What were your first experiences playing hockey like?
We spent a lot of time skating outdoors in the place we used to live. Growing up, we had a community pond that my parents would shovel off, and we would skate there all winter.
Your dad, J.P. Parisé, was a hockey icon, playing for the Minnesota North Stars among other teams. What is the biggest lesson you have learned from him on or off the ice?
He taught me everything I know about hockey and the game. It helped me a lot learning from him since he made it to the NHL and I was trying to get there. Learning things from him and absorbing what he was teaching me, I think I had a little bit of a leg up.
Looking back, some of the things he would tell us (Parise and older brother Jordan), it took about 30 years to realize, “Oh yeah, what he’s saying makes sense.” A lot of it wasn’t hockey related; it was more so treating people the right way. He told us countless times, “Don’t be a bully,” and I think that’s probably one of the things that stuck with both me and my brother the most.
You have won numerous awards, been named captain for multiple teams and even won a silver medal in the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. What do you think is your biggest accomplishment in your career so far?
I would say the silver medal and going to the Stanley Cup Finals (2012) are two of the most exciting experiences I’ve had playing hockey. The Olympics was incredible. Even in Russia (2014 Olympic Games), we didn’t medal, but I think everything about the Olympics is amazing. To get a medal there (in Vancouver) and almost win gold, it was awesome. In the NHL, going to the cup finals is the ultimate goal, and being that close was a really good hockey experience.
How did it feel to return to Minnesota and play for your home state team?
It has been great; we’ve really enjoyed it. Growing up here, you have a lot of friends and family around. I thought it would be a good opportunity to come back here, and it would be a lot of fun. It has been good from a hockey standpoint, seeing the way our team has grown over the past five years and where we were compared to where we are now.
What is the best thing about playing in the Xcel Energy Center?
We have an awesome fan base. There aren’t a lot of arenas where you get a constant sellout every game. We’re pretty spoiled with that. We have loyal fans that when they see you out in public are respectful, and they’re excited about the team and about hockey. As a player, it’s a neat feeling when people come up to you and tell you how excited they are. You can tell the fans really care about the team. It’s a good atmosphere to be in; it’s a lot of fun.
What do you like most about living in the Twin Cities?
People are friendly here. Whether it was going to college and coming back or playing somewhere else and coming back, it’s such a great culture and a great place to raise a family.
I don’t mind the weather; some people complain about it, but I enjoy the seasons. There’s a lot to like about the area.
Do you have any favorite restaurants or places to visit in the Twin Cities?
I think my favorite restaurant is Sushi Fix over in Wayzata. It’s unbelievable. When people come to town, I like Burch Steak in Minneapolis. I also like the lakes and being outdoors.
You now have a family with two children. Do you think hockey is in their futures?
I’m not sure. Our daughter already quit. She started skating and kind of became uninterested in it, but our son loves it. He started skating a year ago, and all of the sudden he’s talking about it a lot and wants to skate all the time. He loves it, so it’s a lot of fun to watch him play.
How do you like to spend your time in the off-season when you can be with your family more often?
We go out on the lake a lot. Our kids are almost four, but they like being on the boat. They are doing so much stuff right now. I mean they’re in tennis, swimming, skating, gymnastics, dance. It’s like every day is something different, so it’s always go, go, go. We do a lot with them.
Who is the teammate or coach that has made you grow the most as a player?
I’ve had the experience of playing for some awesome coaches: Jacques Lemaire, Peter DeBoer, even playing under Lou Lamoriello in New Jersey—I learned a lot from him. Players-wise, I came into the league with a pretty veteran and experienced team, playing with Martin Brodeur for a long time, and playing with Scott Gomez, Jay Pandolfo and Jamie Langenbrunner. I always had some good players for me to learn from and learn how to carry yourself as a professional and how to play the game the right way. I think I’ve kind of been spoiled being able to play for some great coaches and also play with players that are going to be Hall of Famers.
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FAMILY FRIENDLY HOLIDAY EVENTS
Make this your most magical holiday season yet
By Taylor Weeks
The holiday season is a magical time of year. It’s filled with nightly mugs of hot chocolate (with extra marshmallows, of course), brightly lit trees and homes, and fat snowflakes falling from the sky. Kids, especially, hold a sense of wonder during this festive time. Viewing the seasons through a child’s eyes can help everyone be a bit merrier. The Twin Cities are filled with events to bring the spirit of the holidays to the community, spreading cheer to all. Most of these events are family friendly. We have gathered together some highlights for you and your child to share in the lively festivities:
Visit the American Swedish Institute and wander through the Turnblad Mansion. The famous rooms are beautifully decorated in Nordic style. Listen to traditional Swedish holiday music at Music in the Mansion—and afterwards, you and your child can create a masterpiece at the Family Handcraft event. Music in the Mansion and Family Handcraft are included with admission and are free for American Swedish Institute members. (Upcoming dates: Dec. 10, 17, 23)
You can also visit local theaters for holiday-themed productions. These events are particularly nice for entire families to attend together. Go to Children’s Theatre Company for a production of the timeless classic, “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” (through Jan. 7), or Stages Theatre Company’s enchanting rendition of “Beauty and the Beast, Jr.” (through Dec. 28).
For an interactive holiday treat, head over to Jungle Theater to participate in Mrs. Peterson’s Holiday Hour on Dec. 9 from 11 a.m. to noon. This event, created with children nine and under in mind, involves “Mrs. Peterson,” played by Wendy Lehr, reading stories and leading sing-alongs with special guest Christina Baldwin, the director of Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley. Cookies will be offered at the end of the event. Tickets are $7 for adults and free for children.
For a community festival, explore Holidazzle at Loring Park in downtown Minneapolis (through Dec. 23). There are activities for all ages. Buy some cheese curds, listen to a musical performance, and let your kiddos explore the Kid Zone and coloring booth. Or grab a chair (and a blanket) and enjoy an outdoor holiday-themed movie night. There are also Wolf and Moose art exhibits that your children can interact with. And on Saturday evenings, the festival puts on a fireworks show across the pond.
If you’re looking for an outdoor activity, go ice skating at one of the Wells Fargo WinterSkate locations. One location is at Holidazzle in downtown Minneapolis, while the other is in downtown St. Paul next to Rice Park. These artificially chilled rinks are perfect for any temperature. Don’t worry if you don’t have skates—the Holidazzle location offers complimentary skates, and the Rice Park location has $4 skate rentals (or free with a Wells Fargo banking card). If your child is still finding his balance on the ice, you can borrow a skating walker as well.
Another wonderful holiday attraction is the Minnesota Zoo. Kids can have their pictures taken with Santa on Santa Saturdays and wish for their very own zoo animals for Christmas. Photos are free with zoo admission, so while you’re here make sure to check out all of the animals, and try to spot the newborn Amur Tiger playing in the snow. (Upcoming dates: Dec. 9, 16)
Make the most of your holiday season and enjoy these family friendly events. We hope your holidays are as magical as can be.