BARENEED, N.L. — Corey Parsons hopes there’s a team in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) with an interest in his size and skillset.
This Saturday, June 2, the top junior league for Atlantic Canada and Quebec is holding its annual entry draft. Earlier this month, the league released its final rankings prospects list. Parsons, a hulking defenceman from Bareneed closing in on 6’ 5” and only 15, was listed as a projected selection for rounds six-through-eight.
Parsons, who spent last season with the Tri Pen Osprey and also played for the Ascension Collegiate Astros in Bay Roberts, hopes he’s among the young players selected in the draft.
“A lot of great players come out of the league and I’d love to play in it,” he told The Compass, seated in the kitchen of his family’s home in Bareneed, Conception Bay North.
So far, two teams have reached out to inquire about Parsons, who provides a big body whenever he steps out on the ice. He also possesses a solid shot from the point, and his familiarity with the defenceman’s role is sturdy, as he’s played the position going all the way back to the squirt level.
“It’s great. You get to score some goals, and you also get to stop some goals and help the team a lot,” he said. “Moving the puck, you’ve got to move the puck well when you’re a defenceman, and I think I’m a pretty good puck mover.”
Parsons took part in a showcase for the QMJHL last December when he was selected for the prospects game at the Monctonian tournament in New Brunswick. That event routinely attracts the best major midget teams from Atlantic Canada.
Players of his age who spark some interest in the Quebec league also tend to find themselves courted by American colleges. Alex Newhook of St. John’s, widely considered one of the best junior-aged player from Newfoundland and Labrador, has already committed to Boston College. He was considered a top prospect in last year’s Quebec draft, but wasn’t selected until the third round due to the fact he made that commitment to play college hockey.
While Parsons believes playing at an American college is something he would consider if given the opportunity, he considers the Q a better option for himself.
“It would be a big adjustment being away from all my friends and family all the time and having to wear a visor, because I’m always wearing a cage now where I’m only in midget,” Parsons said when asked about the prospect of leaving home. “But I’d get used to that … I’m always up for a challenge.”
Three players from Bay Roberts and the surrounding area were selected in last year’s entry draft and all played in the league this season — Zachary Bennett (a member of the Memorial Cup winning Acadie-Bathurst Titan), Dawson Mercer and Kyle Petten. Petten, who returned home once his season with the Halifax Mooseheads ended, happens to live just down the road and is a good buddy of Parsons.
“He said it’s a very good, well-organized league. You get to play against higher-calibre players than you would at home here,” Parsons said.
Since his own season ended in April, Parsons has continued to train locally and at least once a week in St. John’s. He’s working hard on cardiovascular fitness to improve his leg strength.
“Your legs are the most important muscle in your body when you’re playing hockey,” he said. “You need to have strong legs and cardio so you can extend to the late minutes of a third period in case you’re needed or you get stuck out there.”
He’s also playing lots of ball hockey in anticipation of a milestone event in his young career. Parsons is on Team Canada’s roster for the upcoming Under-16 World Cup in the Czech Republic. It will be his first time playing at an international tournament. His parents, Craig and Colleen Parsons, will join Corey as fans for that experience.
“It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity to play in the worlds,” the young defenceman said.
As far as his development as a player goes, Parsons credits coaches for working with him and pushing him to improve his play. Nelson Bennett, who coached him at the bantam level, and Darren Halloran from Osprey are among those he credits. Halloran is also a scout with the Quebec league.
Saturday’s entry draft takes place in Shawinigan, Quebec, and starts at 11:30 a.m. Newfoundland time.