It would have been easy for Jackson Parsons to resort to self-doubt, and fall into the shadows.
The 17-year-old, who turns 18 next month, was the de facto starting goalie for the Kitchener Rangers coming into training camp after spending the majority of last year as the back-up to Pavel Cajan.
But, after the Rangers started the season losing their first four games, General Manager Mike McKenzie made the move to acquire overage goalie Marco Costantini from the Hamilton Bulldogs.
“Bringing in “Coz,” he's such a good guy and he's a phenomenal goaltender, so I'm already learning stuff from him in the short time he's been here,” said Parsons.
Parsons took back the net for the first time since the addition of the OHL Champion, Costantini, Saturday when the Rangers were in Guelph to face the Storm.
Parsons was fantastic in his return to the crease. He stopped 33 shots, including 15 in the second period while the Rangers were shorthanded for the majority of the time.
Kitchener eliminated a 3-1 Storm lead, forcing overtime, in large part to the Embrun, Ontario native.
In overtime, Guelph forward Danny Zhilkin got a breakaway. Parsons made a massive blocker save, stoning the Winnipeg Jets third-rounder, losing his stick in the process.
“It was definitely a little nerve wrecking,” said the Rangers netminder. “But, at the end of the day my feet were set, so I knew I was going to make that save.”
When retrieving the lost lumber, he made sure to give a fan at the Sleeman Centre a nice wave.
“She was supporting me the entire game, so I had to give her a little wave at the end,” said a smiling Parsons. .
After the ensuing face-off, the Rangers got a breakaway of their one.
Newcomer Filip Mesar made no mistake for his second goal of the game, and the Rangers stopped the Storm 4-3 for their first road win of the season.
“I knew he was scoring. All day. Literally, all day,” smiled Parsons. “Mesar, he's such a great guy and he has so much confidence in himself. You can see when he plays. He's just a phenomenal player.”
Make it six points over his first two games in the Ontario Hockey League, for Mesar.
Rangers head coach Chris Dennis was impressed with how Parsons' – sorry for the pun here - rebounded after his early season struggles.
“It speaks to his character and the process he's stuck with,” said head coach Chris Dennis. “Jordan DeKort, our goalie coach, has worked with him over the last couple weeks to get him in the right frame of mind to give him an opportunity to play like this, so I'm really happy for him.”
“It's definitely huge for me and my confidence in general,” said Parsons. “I didn't get the start that I wanted, but we're only going up from here.”
Kitchener didn't make it easy on themselves. They gave the Storm nine power-plays in the game, while only drawing two penalties themselves.
One of those nine was a five-minute match penalty handed to Tomas Hamara for a slew foot. He'll miss, at least, the next two games because of the infraction.
The two teams will do it again on Tuesday, when the Storm visit the Aud. The Harris Law Pregame Show begins at 6:30 p.m. with Mike Farwell and Chris Pope.