Goalie mask offers tribute

?It’s not often you see a high school goalie mask with something on it other than the regular solid colour design, as everyone tends to keep everything clean and without some sort of crazy paint scheme you tend to see in the professional ranks.
So what is on the back of Muskie goalie Scott Parsons’ mask is something that’s worth noting.
The Grade 11 netminder has added two stickers to the back of his mask for this season—one of which pays tribute to the late Michigan-born goaltender Ian Jenkins.
“In May, Ian had been drafted in the second round of the OHL draft by the London Knights and a few days later he passed away after being involved in a car accident,” Parsons explained.
“I just thought it was kind of devastating as a goalie myself as it just goes to show that anything can happen,” he added.
The other sticker on Parsons’ mask is showing his support to injured Minnesota high school hockey player Jack Jablonski, who was paralyzed as a result of a hit during a game last month.
“It’s really a sad part of the game, when you have one player who dies and you have another player who is fighting in a hospital after an injury,” Parsons said.
“All I’m trying to do is trying to show my support to them and their families, and do in whatever way that I can by having their numbers on my mask,” he added.
• • •
When I found out last Tuesday night that Edmonton Oilers’ forward Taylor Hall got his face clipped by the skate of teammate Corey Potter in a freak accident during warm-ups prior to a game against the Columbus Blue Jackets, my initial response to what happened was as follows:
The NHL doesn’t have it required to wear a helmet during pre-game warm-ups?!
Covering junior hockey, high school games, and local tournaments here over the last year, players wearing their safety gear has become commonplace, and has become something that just takes place, like hearing the national anthem prior to the opening puck drop.
So the fact that players in the big leagues don’t have to wear a helmet in the pre-game warm-ups is completely mind-boggling.
The photo of Hall a couple of days after was shocking itself, with his eye almost swollen shut and the scar above his right eye looking like he was Frankenstein’s monster.
Sure, it was a freak incident, but you would think teams—or maybe the league itself—would change their policy on pre-game warm-ups and the wearing of all safety gear effective immediately.
However, this is the same league that took more than a decade to make helmets mandatory for all players when Bill Masterson died back in 1968, so I guess we shouldn’t expect a change anytime soon.
• • •
Although the SIJHL playoffs are still about a month away, the Wisconsin Wilderness have turned the league into their own personal playground.
Heading into tomorrow night’s neutral-site game in Virginia, Mn. against the Fort Frances Lakers, the Wilderness have won their last 20 in a row—a dominance I haven’t seen personally since the London Knights utterly destroyed the OHL on their way to winning the Memorial Cup back in 2005.
Along with that, the Wilderness have won all 20 of their games at the Northwest Sports Complex in Spooner so far this season, with their last setback in their own barn taking place on March 4 of last year against the Lakers in the total-goal series between the two sides to determine who would have home-ice advantage for the playoffs.
A lot has been made of the Wilderness and their potent offence, but in fact their best weapon might be in the crease. First-year goalie Tanner Milliron has had an outstanding season for the squad, leading the entire CJHL with a 1.39 GAA and a .944 save percentage.
It’s highly unlikely the Wilderness will run the table for the rest of the regular season. But if they happen to pull that off, they still won’t have the most dominant franchise in league history.
That honour belongs to the 2005/06 Fort William North Stars, who had a final record of 50-2 en route to losing in the Royal Bank Cup final for the national championship.
As a big sports video game fan, it’s a shame that Junior ‘A’ leagues are not a part of “NHL 12” because a match-up between that team and this year’s Wilderness probably would go right down to the wire.

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