CHL Notebook: Knights’ Tyler Parsons setting bar for goaltending

Tyler Parsons starred for the OHL's London Knights in goal. (Aaron Bell/OHL Images)

Tyler Parsons, regardless of who wins in Erie, Pa., on Tuesday, has set the bar for money goaltending.

The London Knights’ 2-1 overtime win against the Erie Otters on Easter Sunday, for those of you scoring at home, was the eighth time in as many tries that Parsons has got the almighty W in a do-or-die game. The Calgary Flames prospect handled 44-of-45 shots, keeping the Knights alive until Mitchell Stephens (TB) scored in overtime. All told, the Knights have been outshot 226-138 through six games. Parsons has stopped 116 of 119 shots during London’s three victories.

Parsons’ personal streak began with last spring’s MasterCard Memorial Cup final, which went to overtime. All three of Team USA’s medal-round wins at the world junior championship were one-goal contests, including the shootout decisions where he denied a combined 10 of 12 breakaway contestants — many of whom will be NHL regulars before you know it — in the semifinal against Russia and gold-medal game against Canada. Then there was the three-win comeback when the Knights scraped by the Windsor Spitfires in the first round of the OHL playoffs.

The Knights have one power-play goal in this round, while Max Jones (ANA) and Janne Kuokkanen (CAR) are the only go-to scorers. Yet it’s tied.

Like any promising 19-year-old netminder, Parsons is far from the finished product and surely faces an AHL apprenticeship in Stockton next season to upgrade various elements of his game, such as rebound control. The run the Michigan native has had demands highlighting.

In other words, one individual junior hockey legacy is locked in ahead of Game 7 on Tuesday; the Otters’, as a collective, hangs in the balance. Of the three division champions (so far) across the CHL hosting a Game 7 on Monday or Tuesday, the Otters would be left with the greatest void if they don’t advance. Having the distinction of being the first team with four consecutive 50-win seasons but no OHL title, well, people see that as a bad look.

Alex DeBrincat (CHI), Dylan Strome (ARI) and the Otters did win decisively in their last two home games against London. Strome is over the illness he had to play through during the first two games in Erie. But this series isn’t being played on paper; it’s been on Parsons’ terms.


Tough ticket in Regina

Who has filled the breach better — the Regina Pats in giving their city a rallying point after two bad seasons by the CFL’s Roughriders, or the Pats’ new first line whilst 130-point scorer Adam Brooks can only hope he has not played his last game?

Answer: a little from column A, a little from column B. The way the top-ranked Pats have had to fend off both the Swift Current Broncos and injuries to tie the WHL East Division final has spawned a resale market ahead of Game 7 on Monday night. It’s the first game of its kind that the Pats have hosted since 1972 — when apparently there were still ties in the playoffs.

Meantime, in Game 6 last Friday, the freshly assembled Wyatt Sloboshan-Filip Ahl-Austin Wagner trio scored four of the Pats’ five goals. The performance by Ahl (OTT) was particularly impressive, seeing as it was his first game back from illness.

As far as it being a make-or-break for the home team, the Pats have their host berth in the 2018 Memorial Cup as a fallback. One would also think fans could appreciate the effects of not having Brooks (TOR), who dressed for Games 5 and 6 despite his leg injury but never took a shift.

Sags, Titan aim to clinch on road

The two remaining QMJHL series are at identical points. The Chicoutimi Saguenéens, led by Nicolas Roy of Team Canada fame, are up 3-2 against the defending champion Rouyn-Noranda Huskies. The Acadie-Bathurst Titan hold the same margin against the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada.

The catch is that, thanks to the Q’s 2-3-2 format, each upstart is on the road for Game 6 on Monday. It would also be a quick turnaround to play again on Tuesday.

Between the Sags and the Titan, Chicoutimi might be better poised to complete the takedown. Overage goalie Julio Billia (101 saves on 107 shots over the last four games) is dialed in. The Huskies are also hurting, since reliable scorers Martins Dzierkals (TOR) and Antoine Waked, who combined for 129 regular-season points, are both injured.

Chicoutimi will exceed 100,000 in total season attendance for the first time since 2012-13. It’s always a relief to the QMJHL when a different team out in the Quebec heartland has a playoff run that renews local interest.

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Two minutes for redundancy

Apparently a delay of game penalty can be called when there is no game to delay. Fans who abhor the automatic penalty to a player who shoots the puck over the glass might have noticed when Owen Sound Attack defenceman Sean Durzi was whistled for delay of game at 19:59 of the second period against Sault Ste. Marie on Sunday.

The buzzer had sounded by the time the puck landed out of play. Upon an officials’ review, the call was confirmed and the clock was reset to 0.4 seconds — not enough time for a centre to score directly off of the ensuing faceoff.

In another, simpler time, common sense would have dictated appreciating that the dwindling time on the clock meant there was no pressure in Owen Sound’s goal, which is the principle behind the rule. It came out in the wash. Sault Ste. Marie took an even-up penalty in the first minute of the third period and the Attack won 1-0 to wrap a 4-2 series win.

Canadian NHL team prospect of the week: Dillon Dubé, C, Kelowna Rockets (WHL)

Kelowna’s only defeat during a five-game series win against the Portland Winterhawks was, semi-coincidentally, the only game where Dubé did not have at least one point. The Calgary Flames signing came back after that to notch six points (1G-5A) across the last two games of the series.

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