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Parsons key in USA's WJC win

The netminder stopped all five shooters in the 5-4 shootout win over Canada

by Aaron Vickers @AAVickers / CalgaryFlames.com

One shot.

One-on-one.

World Juniors supremacy in the balance.

Nicolas Roy in the way.

Tyler Parsons in the net.

"Honestly, I just thought if I let in it I'm not going to win … if I save it I'm going to win," recounted Parsons.

"I just had that mentality and went in there … there was only one goal scored that whole shootout.

"I had to make sure that was going to be the only one scored.

"I just couldn't let that guy score. 

"That was the mindset I was in.

"I really wanted that gold." 

He got it.  

Parsons made the save, his fifth straight in the shootout, and Troy Terry scored the lone goal in the third round to lift Team USA over Canada and capture gold at the 2017 IIHF World Junior Championship.

For as certain as he was prior to the test, Parsons didn't know what happened afterwards. 

"I didn't know what to do," said the second round pick (No. 54) of the Calgary Flames in the 2016 NHL Draft.

"I just started celebrating. 

"You don't really remember it … you've got so much stuff running through your head that you forget about all of it. You think back and get little glimpses. 

"It still doesn't seem real. It was definitely a fun experience.

"It's pretty crazy to win the gold medal for your country.

"It's pretty unreal." 

To get there was equally unbelievable. 

Parsons and Team USA fell down 2-0 after the first period and 4-2 in the third. 

A fifth goal didn't beat him, and he stopped the final 23 shots -- including 17 in the 20-minute overtime session -- before shutting down all five Canadian skaters in the shootout en route to lifting Team USA to their fourth championship and first since 2013. 

"He's definitely a performer," said Team USA defenceman and fellow Flames prospect Adam Fox, who set up Colin White's game-tying goal to push the game into overtime. "He's a guy that is pretty confident."

"He wants to be in those situations.

"He has the ability to perform and to be able to do it on such a big stage is great to see. 

Parsons doesn't shy from those big moments.

He made four stops in overtime before Flames rookie Matthew Tkachuk found the back of the net in overtime to give the London Knights a Memorial Cup championship last May.

That's after helping the Knights run through the Ontario Hockey League playoffs, where Parsons rattled off 13 consecutive wins to capture the J. Ross Robertson Cup.

"Obviously he's no stranger to the big stage," Fox said. "He's done really well in the Memorial Cup games, OHL playoffs.

"And obviously the World Juniors.

"I think he's just a big-time player. He really performs. He was big for us stopping all the Canada guys in the shootout and to be able to do what he did, even against Russia in the shootout was big.

"Definitely he was a key part of us winning the gold."

"I think that he's real good in tight games, but he's good at keeping you in it or keeping a good lead," added Tkachuk. "He just plays consistent throughout the whole game.

"You know he's going to do everything he can to keep the puck out and he made some great saves."

His London colleagues will certainly attest to that ability to come up in the clutch.

So too will his Team USA teammates.

But Parsons doesn't feel the need to attach the label to himself.

Even after a 46-save performance.

Even after a flawless five-round showing in the shootout. 

A golden effort.

"I don't usually use words," he said.

"In those types of games there's a lot of pressure. I like playing with the pressure. I think I play better under pressure and in those big games there's a lot of pressure. I think that is what makes me successful.

"Anytime you go down in the game you think you've got to shut the door and see if the boys can bury a couple goals. We ended up burying and tying it again. I knew I couldn't give up anything from there. 

"Overtime I saw a lot of shots. If you let one in it's over. 

"I had to make sure that didn't happen."

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