STAFFORD, NJ -  There are certain things in life much more important than a state tournament hockey game.  The Southern Regional Boys Ice Hockey team demonstrated that point wonderfully last Thursday afternoon.  

The team had a huge state playoff game against Princeton at 5:15 on Thursday.  But before they jumped on the bus to Winding River Rink in Toms River they had to stop by and visit their number one fan, Parker Nork. 

Parker, age 9 is a goalie for the Toms River Blackhawks travel hockey team.  He loves the sport.  Parker is a huge fan of Southern's Ice Hockey squad.  

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Parker, also has recently been diagnosed with cancer.   Parker and his family live in Manahawkin.  The team found out about Parker and decided they would honor him with a hockey stick and jersey signed by the entire Rams squad.  

Parker was so surprised and excited to see the team visit him at his home and present the gifts.   Parker's AYF coach Jack Nascimento contacted Southern Regional Athletic Director Chuck Donohue Jr. about the possibility of the boys signing a hockey stick for him.

Coach Matt Hayes stepped in with the idea for the team to visit Parker.  "Jack established contact with them and we showed up as a squad to give Parker the signed stick and a Southern hockey jersey," said Coach Hayes.  "Parker came to the door upon our arrival with tears in his eyes. It was truly heartwarming that our boys went out of their way to do that for someone they did not know.  As a father of two young children it brought a tear to my eye to see how happy the visit had made Parker."  

Parker posed for a picture with the team.  The boys couldn't stay long because they had to get on the bus for their second round state tourney game against Princeton.   The team even opened the game with a chant dedicating the the contest to Parker.

Parker has been following the Rams for some time.  Parker is a big fan of the Southern goalies since he himself plays the position for the Blackhawks.

The Rams suffered a tough overtime contest against Princeton 3-2.   The team had a great season.  But the greatness of this team truly appears to be the character of each of these special young men.  

Athletics are a great way to mold character and prepare young people to have significant, impacting lives.

Obviously, the Southern Rams players and coaches understand extremely well that some things in life are are much more important than an ice hockey game!