Parley upbeat after two seasons with struggling Wildcatters

By Holly Gunning

Goaltender Davis Parley signed a free agent contract with the Calgary Flames in 2003 and has played the last two years for the ECHL Texas Wildcatters, a new team located in Beaumont, Texas. Prior to that, the BC native spent four years with the WHL Kamloops Blazers.

Parley was originally drafted by the Florida Panthers in 2000, but did not sign a contract with the team. It’s ironic, therefore, that he has ended up with Texas, Florida’s ECHL affiliate. A workhorse in net last year playing 52 of the team’s 72 games, this season the 22-year-old splits time with Phil Osaer, a 25-year-old who spent all of last season in the AHL, now under contract with the Panthers.

“Every goalie wants to play a lot of time, a lot of minutes in the net,” Parley said of the current season. “We’ve got two solid goalies down here with Phil Osaer, who had an outstanding night tonight (Saturday) again. But with the affiliation with Florida there, we’re splitting time and he’s playing well. Every guy wants to keep playing more.”

Thus far, Parley has played 23 games to Osaer’s 32. Their save percentages are very similar, with Parley at .917 and Osaer at .916. While he might want to play more, Parley feels he’s personally doing better this year than last year.

“The team’s a little better, the shots have been down from last year. I’ve been a lot more focused, taking care of my body a lot better, doing everything that I can to improve. Last year, our first year in the league, we didn’t have a very strong team. We got peppered every game. But this year they’ve kept it down and it’s a lot better.”

The 2003-04 inaugural Texas Wildcatters were monumentally bad in fact, going 22-44-4. Parley made the record books tied for second for the most losses by a goaltender in a season, with 29. But being on a bad team also allowed the opportunity to be a big hero, and he’s on the next page as well for a more positive reason — a 63-save performance against Pensacola, tied for third for most saves by a goaltender in a game in the league.

In the 63-save game, Parley remembers his team playing well in front of him. “They let me see everything. When that happens, I should stop everything. And that’s what coach asks out of us. Last year I had some good games and I had some bad games. Some games you just feel the flow or whatever. Just seeing everything helps me out.”

The Wildcatters are seeing an average of 39 shots against per game this season, last in the league. Currently they are 10-32-10 on the year, only five points better than the expansion Victoria Salmon Kings. Last season they saw 42 shots against per game, which Parley admitted was tiring.

“Yeah, when you’re facing 40 shots a game, by the end of the third period, you’re pretty much bagged, but this year we’ve kept it down and we have a lot more energy to finish the game.”

High shot counts are nothing new to Parley though, as he saw nearly as many in Kamloops. Like most goaltenders, he’ll tell you he prefers it.

“One year in Kamloops I faced about as many as I did down here last year, but it’s the same wherever you go, you just want to stop the puck. I love facing shots. It doesn’t matter where I am, Kamloops or here, it’s pretty much the same.”

Parley had some adjustments to make going from junior to the pros, but nothing out of the ordinary.

“I did the same routine from there to here, I just talk a little more in the room. You have to get comfortable in the league, like it took me a little while to get used to juniors coming out of junior B, then coming out of major junior to here, it takes a little while to get used to, but then after that, you’re ready to go.”

The 2004-05 Wildcatters have seen more talent come through the team this season, as has the rest of the ECHL, with Florida prospects like Kamil Kreps, Grant McNeill, and Jeremy Swanson spending time with the team. Several players from the Making the Cut TV program have played with the team as well, including finalist defenseman James DeMone, who will try out with Vancouver when the NHL resumes.

While skaters have come and gone, it’s been Parley and Osaer all year in net. They have a good professional relationship and are friends off the ice as well.

“Yeah we are, we room together on the road, we’re always laughing and joking around. When he goes to San Antonio, he picks up a few pointers from their goalie coach up there and brings them down. We work on them during practice, so he’s really helpful.”

In return, Parley shares drills the goalie coach in Calgary, David Marcoux, has taught him.

“He’s really smart,” Parley said of Marcoux. “He worked with Francois Allaire who had (Jean-Sebastien) Giguere that one year, so they’re really good goalie coaches from a textbook standpoint. So that’s really nice to have.”

The Wildcatters had their own full-time goaltender coach for part of the season as well. NHL goaltender Jamie McLennan, now signed with the Florida Panthers, was working with the team as an assistant coach before leaving in mid-February to sign with the Guildford Flames in the UK. McLennan helped the two especially with patience, waiting until the last second to react to the shot.

“When he was here he was helping us out, we were on the ice pretty much every day working with him.” Parley described.

Parley attended the Calgary 2003 training camp as a free agent out of junior and earned a contract. He talked about the experience.

“It doesn’t matter what NHL camp you go to, there’s always very talented players up there like (Jarome) Iginla, (Craig) Conroy, (Robyn) Regehr. It’s amazing to be up there with those guys because that’s eventually where everyone wants to be. So when you’re up there, they give you little pointers for certain situations. ‘This is what we do, so this is what you should do to counter that.’ They give a lot of pointers even if you’re a goalie trying to stop them.”

The Wildcatters have 19 games remaining on the season, so there’s still time to put these things into practice. As far as what he needs to work on, Parley was appropriately quick to answer.

“Speed. No matter who you are, player or goalie, you always want to be quicker.” He knows what it will take to get there too. “Go to the gym, ride the bike, lift the weights, get that speed. Kind of visualize yourself getting faster and faster and take that on the ice too.”

Another area Parley can improve on is in shootouts, currently he is tied with David Currie of Johnstown for the most shootout losses in the league with six.

Wearing a plain white mask usually reserved for emergency back-up goaltenders, he rebuffed the question of whether he’s looking to upgrade.

“I just got a new one!” he said laughing. And he’s not looking towards a new paint job anytime soon. “I don’t think so. I like it white, it goes with my gear.”

Copyright 2005 Hockey’s Future. Do not duplicate without permission of the editorial staff.