Parnell makes Team NOJHL

Timmins Rock forward Stewart Parnell, shown here in action during an NOJHL game against the Hearst Lumberjacks at the McIntyre Arena on Oct. 20, has been selected to play for Team NOJHL at the 2017 Eastern Canada Cup All-Star Challenge later this month in Trenton. Parnell, who is in his second year with the Rock, is the only Timmins player chosen to take part in the tournament. THOMAS PERRY/THE DAILY PRESS

By Thomas Perry, The Daily Press (Timmins)

TIMMINS – Forward Stewart Parnell will be the Timmins Rock’s lone representative on Team NOJHL when the puck drops on the 2017 Eastern Canada Cup All-Star Challenge later this month.

And coach Corey Beer, who will be scouting for Canada East during the tournament, feels the 18-year-old Porcupine native is quite deserving of the honour.

“Stewart can sometimes be unrecognizable because of the 200-foot game he plays, but he has made such a big impact on team in every aspect of the game,” he said.

“He plays power play. He plays on the first rotation on the penalty kill. He is a go-to centre for faceoffs. We play him in every situation.

“I am very happy he got noticed.”

Parnell’s statistics (19, 6-7-13, 10) might pale in comparison with some of his Team NOJHL teammates, but few of them are likely as strong as he is in all three zones.

“He just kind of goes out and does his job and doesn’t say anything about it,” Beer said.

“This should be a great opportunity for him. Hopefully, he will show very well for us.”

Parnell is an excellent skater for a his size, 6-1 and 175 pounds, and according to Beer he knows how to use that size to his advantage — especially in front of the opposition net.

“It is something we have been working on quite a bit,” Beer said.

“Sometimes that net-front guy is told to stay in front and not move, but Stewart has become an adaptable player, whether it is switching off to the bumper spot on the power play or dropping down low to give relief.

“When it comes to being first on the puck and stuff like that, I can’t say enough about the job he has done so far.

“Sometimes, when you are the net-front guy, you take some friendly fire. I know he has been hit by a couple of shots in tough spots this year, but that’s par for the course.

“Stewart has certainly helped with our power play, which has started to get hot of late.”

Parnell enjoyed a solid rookie campaign with the Rock in 2016-17 (54, 10-32-42, 30), after making the team with a strong training camp.

The Timmins Majors grad followed that up with an even more impressive playoffs (10, 6-2-8, 4) in 2017.

Beer is convinced Parnell’s game will benefit greatly from the experience of being part of Team NOJHL at the 2017 Eastern Canada Cup All-Star Challenge.

“Any time you get the chance to play with higher-end players in a tournament like this, it gives you an awareness of how fast the game is and how fast the puck needs to move,” Beer said.

“I think it is going to be a great experience for him. It is a great tournament. It really is. There is no wasted time out there and that is something we push on our guys.”

2017 Eastern Canada Cup All-Star Challenge will be hosted for the third time by the OJHL, from Nov. 13-15, at the Duncan McDonald Memorial Community Gardens home of the OJHL’s Trenton Golden Hawks.

In addition to Team NOJHL, the tournament will feature teams from the Ontario Junior Hockey League, the Central Canada Hockey League, Maritime Hockey League and the League De Hockey Junior AAA Quebec.

The Team NOJHL roster also includes forwards, Evan Spencer (18, 10-17-27, 16), of the Elliot Lake Wildcats; Owen Robinson (22, 12-16-28, 6), of the Blind River Beavers; James White (19, 9-6-15, 2), of the Rayside-Balfour Canadians; Kaiden McDonald (19, 7-13-20, 16), of the Soo Thunderbirds; Max Khull (22, 12-18-30, 42), of the Beavers; Kobe Keller (16, 10-10-20, 4), of the Soo Eagles; Matt Neault (19, 6-7-13, 14), of the Canadians; Nick Long (21, 11-11-22, 20), of the Wildcats; Nick Techel (16, 9-18-27, 12), of the Eagles; NOJHL scoring leader Gregory Trudeau-Paquet (22, 19-13-32, 24), of the French River Rapids; and Christian Bardarson (16, 11-14-25, 6), of the Eagles.

Team NOJHL’s blue-line consists of Cochrane Crunch captain Connor Lovie (17, 4-9-13, 26); Linden Namagoose (12, 2-2-4, 15), of the Kirkland Lake Gold Miners; Joshue Zlatinsky (15, 1-3-4, 10), of the Espanola Express; Eric Nagy (18, 0-10-10, 17), of the Powassan Voodoos; Alec Johnson (17, 6-9-15, 38), of the Hearst Lumberjacks; and Ryan Mulligan (19, 1-6-7, 12), of the Soo Thunderbirds.

In goal, Team NOJHL will be relying on the puck stopping abilities of the Thunderbirds’ Brandon Gordon (637:00, 6-3-1-0, 1, 2.17, .931) and the Eagles’ Carter McPhail (573:00, 8-2-0-0, 1, 1.89, .939).

Off the ice, Team NOJHL will feature director of operations Nick Perri, from the Eagles; head coach, Kyle Brick, from the Beavers; assistant coach Corey Bricknell, from the Wildcats; assistant coach, Zoltan Kovacs, from the Thunderbirds, athletic trainer J.J. Johnson, from the Voodoos; and equipment manager, Brian Workman, from the Canadians.

Team NOJHL will open the 2017 Eastern Canada Cup All-Star Challenge on Monday, Nov. 13, with a game against Team CCHL Robinson at 1 p.m.

On Tuesday, Nov. 14, they will take on Team QMHL 1 at 10 a.m. and then face off against Team OJHL Hawerchuk at 4 p.m.

Then, on Wednesday, Nov. 15, Team NOJHL will play its final round-robin game against Team OJHL Coffey at 9:30 a.m.

The two semifinals will follow at 3:30 p.m. and 5 p.m., with the championship game hitting the ice at 7:30 p.m.