By Lloyd Jones
CONWAY — Dan Parkhurst, who has been the radio voice of UNH hockey for the past six years, was honored by his peers on Tuesday when Hockey East commissioner Joe Bertagna announced at the league's annual media day in Boston that he has been named the 22nd recipient of the prestigious Joe Concannon Hockey East Media Award.
Parkhurst, who will again call UNH hockey games on television and radio for 2013-14, will also call select games for NBC Sports Network in the coming season. The Conway resident was honored to receive the award, while many of his colleagues were more surprised that he hadn't already received it.
"This was actually the first year that I've been nominated for the award," Parkhurst said by phone Tuesday. "It's a huge honor and I'm grateful. When I think about it, I'm lucky to receive it now because there are lots of other people just as deserving. My color analyst for games is Peter Webster and he's been doing this for 21 years and would have been a great choice."
Previous award winners include Bob Norton, of New England Sports Network; Eric Frede, of NESN; John Connolly, of The Boston Herald; and Allen Lessels, The Union Leader.
The award was renamed in memory of long-time Boston Globe sportswriter Joe Concannon in 2001. Each recipient has demonstrated a superior body of work in covering and promoting Hockey East over an extended period.
In addition to his broadcasting work, the 2013-14 season will mark Parkhurst's 17th year as Hockey East's website designer and coordinator. Parkhurst, a 1993 graduate of the University of New Hampshire, assists in the league's public relations efforts with multimedia solutions, as well as with day-to-day online efforts and game-night updates.
Parkurst, who attended media day with Lynn, his wife, knew he was getting the award ahead of time.
"I've known for about a month," he said. "Since I work for the league, too, I kind of had to know about it."
Nominations are made by each of the 11 Hockey East team's sports information directors.
"It's total guessing on my part but maybe Tom Wilkins, the SID for UNH, nominated me."
Having attended 17 prior media days, Parkhurst knew he had to give a speech.
"I basically said a lot of thank-yous," he said, laughing. "I actually started out by saying, 'At the risk of this being a laundry list,' I wanted to thank a bunch of people. Obviously it's a great honor. John Connolly from the Boston Herald told me, 'I'll teach you the secret handshake now.' And there were other past recipients like Eric Frede who were very supportive and happy for me.
"I've been lucky to have done so many different things," Parkhurst said. "You don't get as many opportunities as I have gotten without being in the right place at the right time."
You also have to be good, which Parkhurst is.
Parkhurst's broadcasting career is long and varied beginning with his years as a student-manager with the UNH hockey team when he also called games for UNH's student-radio station. During the 1997-98 season he called the Hockey East online game of the week, one of the first online broadcasts of college hockey on the Internet.
He then called three seasons (1998-2001) of Merrimack College hockey and basketball while also calling select UNH hockey games for New Hampshire Public Television. Beginning in the fall of 2001, Parkhurst became the full-time play-by-play voice for NHPTV, a position he held until 2008 when the station ceased broadcasting UNH hockey games.
Parkhust said one of his biggest supporters along his hockey broadcasting journey has been legendary UNH coach Dick Umile.
"Coach Umile has been super supportive of me from the beginning as a student at UNH," Parkhurst said. "He's the salt of the earth, a special man."
As early as next week, Parkhurst will begin his seventh season calling Wildcat games on the radio for Learfield Sports while transitioning to television broadcasts produced by UNH Athletics for a number of home games.
From 2006 through 2012, Parkhurst called a variety of regular season college hockey games and also worked six NCAA college hockey tournament regionals for ESPNU. In 2008, he traveled with Boston College to provide radio play-by-play for the Eagles at the Frozen Four during their national championship run. Parkhurst has also called games for NESN, including the 2013 Women's Hockey East Championship game. The 2013-14 season will mark his second year calling selected college hockey games for NBC Sports Network. He will also fill in on NESN this season.
"The season is only a week a half away," Parkhurst said. "I start on Saturday, Oct. 5, and then I fly to Minnesota. Pretty much every Friday and Saturday until April I'll be gone."
Parkurst, who is also the owner of SportDesigns.com, a web design and e-commerce company, loves the sport so much that he even has broadcast Kennett High hockey games over the years.
"I really enjoy the Kennett games," said Parkhurst, whose son Jonathan, 20, was a standout goalie for the Eagles during a recent championship run. I've been lucky to have been able to work my professional life into the hockey landscape. I have been able to turn what meant a lot to me into a career."
Parkhurst has high hopes for this year's UNH team. The Wildcats were ranked third in the latest Hockey East preseason poll behind UMass-Lowell and Boston College, who both return veteran squads.
"I think they'll be good," he said. "I expect them to be top four in the league. There are so many good teams in the league from BC to Lowell and then Providence will be good, plus Notre Dame comes into the leagues this year — it's very good hockey every night. I think UNH has the talent and ability to push or a league championship, they'll face stiff competition no doubt, but if the young players can develop they'll be really good."
It's been 10 years since UNH last won the Hockey East title.
The Hockey East Association is an 11-team Division I college men's hockey conference founded in 1984 and an eight team Division I women's league which began play in 2002-03. The men's league has won eight NCAA championships in the past 20 years. Since 1999, Hockey East has won six NCAA Championships and have placed 21 teams in the Frozen Four, along with 56 teams in the NCAA Tournament.
UNH contributed to this story.