Tyler Parsons wears his cause on his sleeve.
The words ‘Have A Purpose’ are tattooed on his arm.
But the message isn’t his.
It comes from Ian Jenkins, a goaltending prospect whose life was tragically cut short at age 15 in a car accident five years ago.
“That was his motto,” Parsons said. “He wrote it on his gloves, his stick, everything he did was with a purpose. A lot of goalies carry that on and that’s what I took from him.”
Parsons grew up in Chesterfield, MI, about 100 kilometers from Jenkins’ hometown of Milan. He was familiar with Jenkins, whose death brought him close to his family.
“He didn’t have the opportunity to be drafted and I know if he were still here today, he would be drafted,” Parsons said. “He was a great goalie. Just having a purpose is my biggest thing. I have it tattooed on my arm. That’s one of the biggest things I live by is having a purpose with everything that you do and carrying on his legacy is really awesome.”
Jenkins was selected in the second round, 29th overall by the London Knights in the Ontario Hockey League Priority Selection in 2011. He fell out of the back of a pickup truck the next day, and passed because of injuries sustained in the accident five days later.
It made Parsons reflective on his NHL Draft day, which saw the Calgary Flames pluck the Knights goaltender in the second round (No. 54).
The selection capped a memorable season for the 18-year-old.
Parsons went 37-9-3 with a 2.33 GAA and .921 save percentage in 49 appearances for London. He had a .915 save percentage, and shrunk is goals against to 2.15, in an 18-game playoff run to a J. Ross Robertson Cup title as OHL champions.
He pushed those numbers to 1.78 and .942 in four games in helping London to their second Memorial Cup title in franchise history. Parsons stopped 29 of 31 shots in a 3-2 overtime win against the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies to clinch.
The tattoo to honour Jenkins came after the win.
“This is maybe three weeks fresh,” Parsons said.
“His life impacted a lot of goalies that play hockey, so carrying on his legacy and having a purpose is awesome.”