Defenseman Ryan Parent of the Guelph Storm is one of the top ranked skaters in North America for the 2005 NHL Entry Draft. He is a defensive defenseman with good size at 6’2 and 190 pounds. He plays the game well in his own end and is a good skater.
Parent had a remarkable 2004. In early January he won a gold medal with Team Ontario at the Under-17 tournament. He wrapped up his rookie season with the Guelph Storm by winning the OHL championship. In August he won another gold medal, this time with Team Canada at the Under-18 tournament. Parent was captain for Team Ontario and Team Canada.
The 2004-05 season has seen Parent develop nicely as a player, logging a lot of minutes on a rebuilding Storm team. He was a vital part of one of the stingiest defenses in the league. He took part in the 2005 CHL Top Prospects game.
Currently Guelph is in a first round playoff battle with the London Knights. The Storm have kept the scores close despite getting outshot almost three to one in the first two games, losing 3-2 and 2-1.
Storm head coach Dave Barr commented on how Parent was responding to the pressure applied to him by London. “I think he is doing a great job. Ryan Parent is one the top ranked defensemen in junior hockey for the draft for a reason. He is playing against Corey Perry who is one of the best one on one players in junior hockey right now, and he is going against him every third shift and he is doing a fantastic job against him. It can only get easier after this you would think. It’s invaluable experience for this year and then obviously for years to come.”
When asked what the young players can learn from this experience Barr replied, “They are learning to play the game, the way London moves the puck around, they make it look so easy. They support each other, when there is no play, they make the simple play, they don’t try to force anything and I think it’s great for our defensemen to watch from the bench and ice and learn.”
Hockey’s Future caught up with Parent after the loss on home ice in game two.
HF: Talk a bit about the game tonight, it was your second one-goal loss in as many days, how is the team feeling?
RP: Well we are upset that we didn’t get the wins. They were two pretty close games; we can take pride in ourselves for both games and going into game three that gives us a little bit of confidence.
HF: What will be the focus of the team over the next couple of days, will you have an off day or will it be spent practicing?
RP: We’ll practice both days, we might give a couple of guys the day off on the first day to rest up a bit for the next games. We’ll just tweak our systems a little bit more and come out ready to go on Monday.
HF: How is the fatigue factor? You just played two physical games in two consecutive nights and sustained a lot of pressure from London.
RP: It gets to you, but we are lucky that there is not much travel and that helps out a lot, we are staying in our own beds every night, so we feel pretty normal, it is not much different from any regular season games.
HF: Your team has only one defenseman who shoots right, does that create any problems for the five guys who shoot left?
RP: We have to adjust to it, we have different plays for when we have two lefties on the ice at one time, and it works all right for us.
HF: The NHL has just announced that they will be canceling their 2005 Entry Draft in its normal format. Given that you are a probable first round pick, how disappointing is that?
RP: It was disappointing to hear. You work all year to get drafted and to help your team out as well, the draft is an aside, one of your personal goals, and so it is disappointing. But there is nothing you can do about it, so I’ll just have to play hard in the playoffs and see what happens.
HF: Right now Central Scouting has you, Matt Lashoff of the Kitchener Rangers and Marc Staal of the Sudbury Wolves rated as the top defensemen in the OHL who are eligible for the draft. Can you compare the styles of play that you three play?
RP: I’m more of a defensive defenseman; I think those two guys are pretty much the same way. We have pretty much similar points and stats. I guess we play similar hockey; my role is pretty defensive on our team.
HF: You were captain of Team Ontario that won the gold medal in the Under-17 tournament. You were captain of Team Canada that won the gold medal in the Under-18 tournament; can you tell us about your role on those teams?
RP: Well we were all pretty much leaders, the coaches just looked to me as kind of a rep for the rest of the team, to see what the team was feeling and then bring it to the coaches. We had great players on both teams and we were pretty successful. It is an honor to play for that team, especially to wear the Canadian jersey for both events, even though at the Under-17 we were representing Ontario, but wearing that jersey it was quite the honor playing for your country and it was an awesome feeling winning the gold.
HF: Now obviously your focus is still on beating London in this series, but if you don’t, are you still eligible for the Under-18 championships that are being held in a few weeks even though you just turned 18 a few weeks ago?
RP: I’m eligible, any of the 1987 birthdays who are knocked out after the first round of the playoffs, maybe the second round, will be looked at, I’m not really sure when they would pick their team. It is totally up in the air right now on who they would consider until the first round of playoffs are over.
HF: Can you tell me a bit about the playoff run of last year? The Storm won the OHL championship and advanced to the Memorial Cup, but as a rookie on a veteran-laden defense corps, you didn’t see a lot of ice time. What was your experience like?
RP: I got to watch a lot of the players. I got the odd shift in the games and you just gain a lot of experience from watching the guys and going out and playing with them a bit, and that has helped me a lot coming into this year’s playoffs, having a number of games under my belt.
HF: Hockey Canada is looking at an initiative to limit the number of underage players playing junior hockey. Now when you were 15, you played Junior B, how much of a transition was that for you and do you think it was better for you to do that rather than play another year of minor hockey?
RP: It was a big transition, but a good transition I thought. The Midwestern Junior B League is a good league, it’s a pretty skilled league I guess, it’s not a goon or fighting league. It was good hockey and it helped me to develop quicker playing against the older guys, and it made the step to the OHL a lot easier. I thought it was better for me to play Junior B instead of another year of minor hockey. I played a year up the year before in Bantam, which would be the same level as Midget for that year anyway, so I had already played at that level and I thought that the jump to Junior B would be a lot better for me to come into the OHL.
HF: What do you think you have to work on the most to get to the next level?
RP: Pretty much getting a little more offensive, adding that part to my game as right now I play more of a solid defensive style and anything extra offensively is just a bonus.
HF: If you could model your game to a current NHL player who would it be?
RP: I like Jay Bouwmeester on Florida, he is a big solid defenseman and a young guy. I’ve watched him play at the World Juniors and all the way up through to the NHL and he is a pretty good role model.
HF: What is your favorite OHL rink outside of Guelph?
RP: I would have to say Kitchener, London and Ottawa. They are all pretty loud and big rinks and that makes for a great atmosphere to play in.
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