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Parsons, Fox honoured to represent USA

The Calgary Flames prospects are ready to help the USA push for gold at the IIHF World Junior Championship

by Aaron Vickers @AAVickers / CalgaryFlames.com

Tyler Parsons, self-admittedly, can't carry a tune. 

It won't stop the goaltender from belting out the Star-Spangled Banner should the United States capture gold at the 2017 IIHF World Junior Championship.

"I'm not a singer," declared Parsons.

"I've got a bad, bad singing voice. Maybe I could pick a couple guys out on the team that can sing.

"But if we win gold, I'm singing. I'll be all over TSN."

Parsons, selected in the second round (No. 54) by the Calgary Flames in the 2016 NHL Draft, will find any way to express his patriotism.

After all, serving his country is something Parsons feels he was born to do.  

He's got a longstanding family tradition of doing so.

"My great-grandpa and then my cousin were all in the military," said Parsons, who has won both starts and has a 1.50 GAA and .923 save percentage in his first go-round representing the United States in international competition.

"All of my family…

"It feels awesome to support your country somehow and pulling on that USA jersey.

"If I wasn't playing hockey I'd be overseas right now." 

The tournament has given Parsons another way to represent.

On the ice.

"I've always wanted to be in the military and I can't do that now that I'm playing hockey," the Calgary Flames prospect said. "Definitely putting on that USA jersey means a lot to me and it means a lot to everyone here. 

"I've been super excited to wear it.

"It's been great."

Though it's Parsons' first international taste, teammate and fellow Flames prospect Adam Fox has a lot of experience tugging on the red, white and blue.

Fox, selected one round after Parsons in 2016, is very comfortable in the colors.

He spent two seasons with the United States' National Team Development Program, and has helped Team USA to silver at the World Under-17 Challenge and bronze at the World Under-18 Championship, where he was named the tournament's best defenceman.  

"It's good that I'm able to play with some of the guys from the program and be able to do that and get that experience, but this is a little bit of a bigger stage than the past tournaments," Fox said. "Definitely getting that international experience before is helping."

That special feeling Parsons described of tugging on a jersey for the first time?

It never goes away, Fox declared.

"Yeah … you still get that feeling every time," said Fox, who has one assist in four games at the World Juniors, and 16 points in 11 games at Harvard University this season. "You're representing your whole country through hockey. It's such an honour to do it, especially on this stage. 

"This is one of hockey's biggest stages internationally. 

"It's special to do it."

The United States is well on their way to a special run, too. 

They won Group B by sweeping their way to four consecutive wins, including a 3-1 victory against Canada on New Year's Eve.

It was a tone-setter for the quarterfinal Monday against Switzerland.

"It was definitely a high-intensity game," Fox said. "We got to settle in early, get the nerves out of us. It was a big crowd. We did that early, got two nice power play goals there. We took a few penalties but killed it off well. It was a good first game against them.

"We've got to keep it going. 

"For us, we're trying to have USA Hockey show how we're right there with Canada. People don't really look at the United States as the hockey country, but I think we're just trying to prove that we're just as good as any other country and show it on this stage."

So far, so good. 

The United States are just three win away from claiming World Juniors gold. 

They've already heard their anthem four times. 

Just three more renditions to go.

"Anytime you get the chance to play for your country is amazing," Parsons said. "To get the opportunity to be able to do this is huge to me. Even missing Christmas and New Year's and New Year's Eve … I had a lot of fun being here and winning games.

"I'm definitely looking forward to the rest of this tournament.

"And hopefully come out with a gold medal."

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