Since the OHL trade deadline in which the Knights acquired 3 major pieces in their run towards another OHL title and a Memorial Cup berth. It is evident to me that the straw that stirs the drink for the Knights is goaltender Tyler Parsons. The 19yr old Chesterfield, Michigan native and 2nd round, 54th overall NHL draft pick of the Calgary Flames has developed into the premier goaltender in the OHL and quite possibly the CHL this season. Parsons sports a 14-3-3 record and a 2.43 GAA with a .921 SV%, ironically the same SV% that he had last season in leading the Knights to their second Memorial Cup win in franchise history.
Parsons has come along way from being an undrafted free agent in 2014/15 who signed with the Knights after 3 seasons with the Little Caesars U16 and U18 programs. At only 6’1″ he is a bit undersized for today’s prototypical goaltender. But what he lacks in size he makes up for with raw athletic ability. A self described gym rat Parsons has the ability to steal a game for London and has done that on numerous occasions throughout his 3 year OHL career. He constantly challenges shooters and with a solid glove hand and elite level lateral movement keeps the Knights in games when his team needs him the most. His elite skill set garnered him an invite the Team USA for the WJC and he became the starter before tournaments end and led the USA to the Gold Medal.
The game on Friday night was a prime example of that as the Knights faced the Erie Otters. Erie is the team in my opinion that will pose the biggest threat in the Western Conference to the Knights run to the title. London held an early 2-0 lead but the offence of the Otters peppered Parsons with 45 shots during the game and the Knights could only muster 21 shots the other way. Erie would prevail 5-3 on a last minute goal thanks in part to poor defensive coverage by the Knights. In the Knights defence they were missing Max Jones, Victor Mete, Sam Miletic and Cliff Pu and if it was not for Tyler the game would have been a lopsided affair for the Otters.
The Knights with again a star studded lineup with the likes of Jones, Mete, Stephens, Vande Sompel, Pu, Juolevi and rising stars Thomas, Formenton will be counting on the heroics from Parsons to lead them into the playoffs and beyond. With the lineup the Knights have assembled this season anything short of another trip to the Memorial Cup will be a major disappointment. Parsons will again be the key factor in the Knights success this season.