Parker Ford, at 5-foot-9, 180 pounds, is not the most imposing figure.
But give any shift of his a few seconds, and you’ll see why he’s one of the most exciting players in college hockey.
Ford, a Wakefield, R.I. native, was an electric factory in his first two seasons at Providence. Playing in the uber-structured Nate Leaman system, Ford quickly was thrust into duty as a top-six center as a freshman, and it was a job he fulfilled well.
As a first-year player, he posted nine goals with 13 assists in 31 games, following that up with seven goals and 12 assists in 25 games last season. He recorded a .568 and .579 faceoff percentage his freshman and sophomore years, respectively, and with his bulldog mentality, he’s willing to place equal emphasis on bringing a strong defensive game.
He’ll get his first opportunity to show out as a junior Saturday when Providence hosts Army at Schneider Arena — a game you can watch live at 4 p.m. ET on NESN+.
“From Day 1, Parker has been a top-six player for us,” Leaman said Wednesday over Zoom on Hockey East media day. “It’s probably a lot to ask to have a freshman come in and play top-six center, but we asked him to do it and he did it very well. Now, it’s really about Parker feeling comfortable. I think his skill and his talent always comes through because he works so hard. He’s a hard-working player, he’s a good-skating player, but his talent always comes through because of his effort, his second effort around pucks and around battles and around getting to the net.”
He’s in line to play a premier role for the Friars this season, which, frankly, hardly is anything new for him.
Ford went undrafted, which while disappointing, is something he can use to his advantage. As he continues to build his profile with impressive play in Hockey East, he’ll undoubtedly get attention from NHL teams. Should he decide that this season is his swan song in Providence, he’ll have a good number of teams vying for his service, and since no team holds his NHL rights, he’ll be able to choose where he goes.
“I expect him to have a good year, he’s worked hard in the summer,” Leaman said. “I think junior year, he’s got to feel comfortable now at this level to carry a pretty big load.”