by Kim Mueller || AHL On The Beat Archive
The Manchester Monarchs picked up their 20th victory of the season on Sunday to move them into first place in the American Hockey League. This is the most successful season for the Monarchs since head coach Mark Morris took the reins as bench boss in the summer of 2006. Manchester won nine of their first 11 games of the season and a main contributor to that success was right wing Scott Parse.
In just seven games in Manchester, Parse led the team with nine assists, 11 points and a plus/minus rating of plus-8. On Oct. 23, he got the call from the Kings and has continued his early success with 11 points (4g, 7a) in 24 games in his first opportunity playing in the NHL.
“Down in Manchester, we started off the year and it was fun,” said Parse. “We were winning. Everyone was working hard. It was a lot of fun. Up (in Los Angeles), it’s not much different. Same thing, just a bunch of little older guys that are still kids at heart just playing a game.”
A third-year pro, Parse spent his first two seasons in Manchester. The 2007-08 season was a difficult one for him as he battled a back injury and only mustered three assists in 14 games with the Monarchs and 16 points (5g, 11a) in 18 games with the ECHL’s Reading Royals.
He had a much more successful, pain-free 2008-09 season where he registered 15 goals and 24 assists to finish fifth on the Monarchs roster with 39 points in 74 games.
In the 2008-09 season, Parse collected his 11th point of the season in his 24th game. This season, it only took him seven games.
“His focus and his compete level is night and day from where it was a year ago,” explained Morris. “You could tell throughout the development camp and into training camp that Scott had made up his mind; he was going to do his utmost to be an impact (in Manchester) and in the eyes of the Kings organization.
“I think he was disappointed that he didn’t get an exhibition game (with the Kings) and that only fueled the fire for him to really perform at a high level for us and that led to the opportunity with the Kings and he never looked back.”
So what is it that’s different this season from previous years?
“Experience obviously is a big key,” said Parse. “I was injured and this was the first summer in two summers that I was able to work out hard and I just felt really strong and ready to go this year.
“I was only at (Kings) camp for five days or so. Then came down to Manchester and we started off strong down there and that’s why I got the call-up.”
Not playing in an NHL exhibition game in Los Angeles might have been the message that Scott needed to hear.
“Definitely (it was disappointing), I mean you want to get the chance to show what you can do and if you don’t get it, you go down and work extra hard in Manchester,” said Parse.
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He was a talented player before he turned pro when he played four seasons at the University of Nebraska-Omaha. There tends to be an adjustment period when a player turns pro as they get used to the systems and the speed.
“You could see flashes for periods of time where he really excelled and then there were other times where he was working but not as effective as he’s playing right now,” said Morris. “His hustle, his compete level are very impressive right now. Those are things we were trying to encourage him to do while he was here. He’s got extraordinary goal scoring abilities and we’re beginning to see that emerge with the Kings.
“It’s really nice to see a guy when they figure it out and his defensive game, his checking ability, his puck protection, all those things have really turned him into another layer of scoring for the Kings.”
Scott describes his game as, “well-rounded. I’ve always had a knack for making plays, scoring goals, putting points on the board and that’s what I’m trying to do here.
“I’ve definitely been working on the defensive side, positioning. Coach Morris really stressed them and that really helped me out a lot.”
One moment in his hockey career he’ll never forget was scoring that first NHL goal.
“It was Teddy (Purcell) who gave me a good pass in the slot,” Parse explained. “It was just a one-timer but it was cool. You play your whole life and you finally score a goal. It’s a dream come true.”
Now that Parse’s dreams have come true and he’s playing hockey in the NHL with the Kings, what is he asking for as a present under the tree this year?
“Geez, I haven’t even thought about that,” he chuckled. “I could use some new clothes. I’ll say a new suit because I don’t have any here. I need a winter coat, that’s what I need.”
What could anyone playing hockey in Los Angeles need a winter coat for?
“We’re going to Calgary and Edmonton this week.”
In Los Angeles or in Manchester, Parse is making it exciting for fans and his success is admirable.
“It’s heartwarming,” said Morris. “I think if you’d asked me a year ago if he’d be one of the guys that is a major contributor to the Kings right now, I would have said it would have been one of the furthest things from my mind. I think whatever was holding him back and kept him from underachieving is old news because he has really made a jump that is inspirational for the rest of the guys that are in our locker room. If you believe in yourself, others will believe in you and he’s earning the trust and the confidence of the coaching staff.
“We’re delighted for Scott. He’s earned it. I think he’s a great example of what you can do when you really set your mind to achieving your ultimate goal to play in the National Hockey League. He’s been rewarded for his hard work and it’s quite a success story.”