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PARSONS EARNS PRO INTERNSHIP

Goaltender Tyler Parsons got a taste of the pro ranks with the Stockton Heat

by AARON VICKERS @AAVickers / CalgaryFlames.com

It was a best-case scenario for Tylers Parsons.

Best worst-case, that is. 

And that's how it played out for his London Knights in a Round 2 meeting against the Erie Otters, ousting the Calgary Flames prospect from the Ontario Hockey League playoffs. 

And potentially out of the OHL permanently.

"They were a first-place team," started Parsons, no stranger to the extra-curriculars with a Memorial Cup title won in overtime last May and a World Junior gold captured in a shootout in early January.

"We had to step up our game. I think we did that in a few games and a few games we didn't play our best. We took them to Game 7. That's what you want to do. They're a first-place team. We knew we could compete with them. Game 7 … Erie came out hot. It was a great game, back-and-forth.

"To go to overtime, that's the best way to end your season … the best way to go out is a Game 7 in overtime.

"It sucks, but there's always one team that moves on and one team goes home. To battle it out to a Game 7, and to go to overtime, it's the best way to end. It shows each team was pushing for it. That's why I think it's better than getting swept. It's a better way to go out." 

"Overall it was a fun experience. I had a lot of fun doing it all.

"This season was a very fun experience to me."

It could be his last in London.

Parsons, who will turn 20 on Sept. 18, is eligible to join the professional ranks.

A goal at 10:40 of overtime in Game 7 to Otters forward Warren Foegele could be the final blemish on a standout junior career. 

The Chesterfield, MI native knows it.

"You know, it's something I want to do … I'd love to play pro hockey," said Parsons, who finished with 58 saves in what could be his final junior game.

"I'm still eligible for another year in the OHL, but I would love to play my first year pro next year. Whatever happens, happens. Whatever way I go it's the way I go. But I'm hoping to play in Stockton next year and try to make the pro team."

He's already got an inside track.

Video: Get to know Flames prospect Tyler Parsons

With goalies David Rittich and Jon Gillies tending twine for the Stockton Heat during a best-of-five series against the San Jose Barracuda, Parsons watched closely.

He signed an amateur try-out with the Calgary Flames AHL affiliate, and is absorbing the pro experience.

"It's my first time actually being up with the pro hockey team," he said. "It's a whole 'nother level. 

"I think it was good for me to get out here and meet the guys and be on the ice with them and see the difference in speed and difference between switching leagues. It's a little faster. Guys shoot the puck harder. They're bigger.

"It's good for me to get out here now and recognize that stuff and get a feel for it all moving into the summer and into next season." 

Sound familiar?

It worked for another top prospect last spring.

"The majority of his time here is going to be about working with (goaltending coach Colin Zulianello) and getting the experience … kind of like what Mark Jankowski was able to get last year, and make sure he's really competitive in practices so he's able to put himself in a position, if called upon, he is ready to go," Stockton coach Ryan Huska said.

Jankowski, on an ATO of his own, had two goals and six points in an eight-game audition last season, and was one of the American Hockey League's top rookies in netting 27 goals and 56 points in 64 games as a rookie this season.

A sneak-peek at the league could fast-track things for Parsons.

"It's about the experience," Huska said.

"It'll be very valuable. He's got two different guys, in regards to goaltenders, to look up to. David and Jon are different guys in how they approach games. They're both different in how they play games.

"Part of the learning process this time of year is for him to take it all in and see what works with both those guys. It's a win-win for him to be around for a lot of different reasons. 

"We become more familiar with him as well.

"I go back to Mark. That was really one of the reasons it felt like he got off to a good start with us this year, because he had a lot of comfort knowing the people around."

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