Tyler Parsons knew that Tuesday night’s home game against the Colorado Eagles, the No. 1 team in the ECHL, was likely going to be his last at Silverstein Eye Centers Arena.
Watching from a suite inside the arena was Mason McDonald, his friend and goalie partner who had been playing with the Mavericks’ American Hockey League affiliate, the Stockton Heat.
Although the transaction was not officially announced until Wednesday afternoon, Parsons – the top prospect in the Calgary Flames organization – was swapping teams with McDonald, who is expected to return to the net this weekend against Cincinnati.
Stockton also recalled high-scoring forwards Mike McMurtry and Darren Nowick Wednesday after they had been reassigned to the Mavericks on Sunday.
While thrilled to be returning to the AHL, Parsons experienced some bittersweet moments following the dramatic 3-1 victory over the high-scoring Eagles.
When he went out to throw a T-shirt into the stands after being named one of the stars of the game, he shook hands with each fan lining the walkway.
He took a moment to return to the tunnel to get his stick, sign it and give it to a young fan. He then entered the locker room, and was greeted with a rousing ovation – a well-deserved rousing ovation from his appreciative teammates.
“Ty stood on his head tonight,” team captain Tyler Elbrecht said of the 20-year-old who led starred on the U.S. Junior National team last year, winning all five starts en route to a gold medal. “When your goalie plays like he did tonight, it just inspires everyone.
“He’s playing at a level that gives us all extra confidence. He’s been pretty amazing in his last two starts.”
Parsons led the Mavericks to a 2-1 victory over Rapid City Saturday night and followed with the big win Tuesday, stopping 23 of 24 Colorado shots.
“Parsons has been amazing – and he’s leaving for Stockton,” coach John-Scott Dickson said with a laugh. “Would we like to have him the rest of the season? If you saw the last two games, you know the answer to that question. But we’re here to help young guys learn and move up to the next level.
“I really don’t think he’ll be back this year. He’s playing the game at a very high level right now. Parsons was in a zone all night. He’s been in a zone the past two games. He’s turned in two of his best performances in our last two games.”
When asked about the possibility of playing his last game for the Mavericks, Parsons smiled.
“I have such great memories of this season,” said Parsons, who is Calgary’s No. 1 prospect according to NHL.com. “I wish I would have played better early in the season. Right now, I feel so good, so confident in the net.
“And a lot of that confidence comes from the guys playing in front of me. I’m so thankful that they play so hard and will do anything – sacrifice their bodies, anything – to stop a shot. I have to be honest, my goal is to play in the NHL and going back to Stockton gets me a step closer.
“But I will never forget the time I spent in Kansas City – the fans, my teammates, our coaches and organization – that’s all pretty special.”
McDonald and newcomer Chris Nell will now share goaltending duties.
“We know what Mase (McDonald) is capable of doing from watching him all season,” Dickson said, “and Neller has been lights out, so we’re very confident about our goaltending.”
McMurtry, who leads the Mavericks with 18 goals, 15 assists and 33 points, assisted on Nowick’s empty-net goal in Tuesday’s win, their only game with the Mavericks since being reassigned on Sunday.
Nowick has 15 points (6 goals, 9 assists) in just 20 games with the Mavericks this season. McMurtry had one assist in eight games with Stockton, while Nowick had a goal and two assists in eight games with the Heat.