Parse quietly leads the college hockey nation

By DJ Powers

University of Nebraska-Omaha junior and Los Angeles Kings prospect Scott Parse may be the most underrated player in college hockey right now. He currently leads the nation in scoring (14 goals, 32 assists) and is doing it with little fanfare, which is just fine by him.

The Portage, MI native’s 1.14 assists per game rank second in the nation while his 1.64 points per game ranks third. Parse is also a strong candidate for both the Hobey Baker award and CCHA Player of the Year.

In addition to points, Parse leads Nebraska-Omaha in a variety of categories, including assists (32), shots (99), shorthanded goals (3) and plus/minus (+21). Two of the more telling aspects about Parse’s value to his team are that he has points in 23 of 28 games thus far and he alone has accounted for nearly one-quarter of his team’s total assists.

In his two previous seasons with Nebraska-Omaha, Parse led his team in scoring and along the way set new school records. This season, he is on to pace to break more records, some of which are the ones he himself has established.

One record that was recently broken came in the Mavericks 3-3 tie at Alaska-Fairbanks on January 28th. In the game, Parse notched his 81st career assist to break the school’s career assist record previously held by Andrew Wong. With 130 career points accumulated going into this weekend, Parse needs just 15 more to break the career points record held by David Brisson.

With his torrid and consistent production, the modest left winger takes it all in stride and knows how essential his performance is to the team’s success.

“I’m a junior right now and I’m one of the leaders on the team. I expect to play well and be a leader on the team. I expect to put up points every night because that’s what the team needs. I know that is expected of me and I look forward to doing it,” said Parse in a recent interview with Hockey’s Future.

Parse could best be described as a player who combines creative ways to score and set up plays with determination and toughness. Oftentimes he seems to be everywhere on the ice and has the ability to make those around him better.

Just ask his linemate and close friend Bill Thomas. The two players have been playing together since last season and with the Tri-City Storm (USHL) before that. Together, they are both magical and lethal. So just what does make it work? It’s a question that Parse gets asked often.

“We get that question asked to us a lot. We just say that we just click. We have that chemistry. You can’t really explain it. It’s just a lot of fun playing with Billy. There are certain guys that you just click with like that and we have it. It’s just been great here playing with him.”

The two Mavericks teammates both rank in the top seven in the nation in scoring, so being the team’s main go-to guys every night, is a role that both players enjoy and thrive in.

“We expect to do well every night because that’s our role on the team. We are counted on to score goals and put up points. That’s what we enjoy doing and it’s a lot of fun for us,” said Parse.

Parse is one of a growing number of players in the NCAA that have made the jump to college from the USHL. He had originally intended to stay two years at Tri-City, but a simple twist of fate would change all of that.

“I came here to UNO a week before school started because they had a couple of guys that were ineligible. I was actually packing the night before to go back to Tri-City when I got the call from all three coaches here at UNO. They told me about the situation, so I came down, took a look at the school and I just decided to stay here.”

One individual who has had a profound effect on Parse both as a player and as a person is Nebraska-Omaha head coach Mike Kemp.

“He started the hockey program here and has been the first and only head coach here. He’s just a great guy and he’s full of energy. The one thing that I like about him is that he treats us players like men. He expects us to act like adults and expects us to represent our school well. He definitely gives emotional speeches about the school, what it means to him and what it should mean to us. He teaches you to grow up. That’s one thing that you can definitely learn from him.”

Like any other great player, Parse strives to be the best and most complete player as he can possibly be. His seemingly tireless work on areas such as strength and conditioning have paid off big time on the ice. While he continues to make a steady climb in his growth and development, Parse feels that there are two improved areas that have helped make him the player that he is today.

“The main things are the confidence and the experience, with this being my third year. I know what college hockey is all about and I know our league. I expect to be one of the top players and to do well every night. I know that’s what my team expects of me and that’s what the team needs.”

Aside from his offensive prowess, Parse enjoys getting into the physical side of the game and understands all too well that it goes with the territory, especially at the pro level. While it may not always be so evident, it isn’t anything new to him either.

“When I was growing up I always loved to check. I’ve always been a physical player. I think that’s where it comes from. I know that some offensive guys don’t hit a lot, but I have kind of always done it. With more experience and being stronger, I realized that I could do that more often. It’s part of the game and I don’t mind doing that once in a while.”

One facet of Parse that many people may not know about is the fact that he is also an accomplished baseball player. It is a sport that has not only helped him improve his hockey game, but it was also a summertime diversion that helped him appreciate the sport of hockey even more.

“It’s helped my hand-eye coordination. I’ve always been pretty athletic and good at sports. In the summer growing up I would never play hockey, I always played baseball every day. It was just a chance for me to do something else that would allow me to get away from hockey for a while. I love playing baseball and that was what I did every summer up until the time that I graduated from high school. When hockey season came around again, I was looking forward to getting back out on the ice and getting ready to go. I was really excited about it.”

Parse grew up in the western part of Michigan watching the Detroit Red Wings. When asked who has had the greatest influence on him, he named Steve Yzerman. “I grew up watching him play and he was a great scorer. He’s just been a great leader all these years.”

In the summer of 2004, the Los Angeles Kings drafted Parse in the sixth round (174th overall) and it was an experience that he’ll never forget.

“It was a dream come true. You work hard all your life to have something like that happen and it happens. It was definitely very exciting for me.

I went out to their (prospects) camp two years ago. But I didn’t go last summer because they weren’t sure if they were going to have it with the lockout situation and all. Then they decided to have it about a month before school started here. I had already been here at school. So I didn’t go out there.”

Until last weekend, Parse felt that the hardest road rink to play in was the Carlson Center up at Alaska-Fairbanks. Now his response?

“I’m going to have say Yost (University of Michigan). It’s a pretty cool atmosphere there. The fans really get on you and it’s a hard place to play.”

Since arriving at Nebraska-Omaha, Parse has had the opportunity to play against some excellent collegiate players, but one former Spartan currently playing in the NHL stands out as not only the most difficult college player that he has played against, but also one he has tremendous respect for.

“The first player that comes to mind as being the most difficult to play against is Jim Slater (ATL) at Michigan State. He just did everything for that team. If you wanted a college player to model yourself after, he would be a good example because of the way he played and how hard he worked every shift. He’s just a great player.”

Asked what the one aspect about Scott Parse the hockey player is that most people don’t know, his reply was actually quite revealing.

“I guess the fact that I wasn’t ever a big recruit growing up. I wasn’t on anybody’s radar screen. Even when I played midget hockey, I really had nowhere to go. I got an opportunity to play in Sault Ste. Marie, MI on a midget team. After that, I wasn’t a highly recruited player going into juniors. Same thing happened with college. Schools really didn’t talk to me with the exception of UNO. They showed a lot of interest in me. That’s why I came here, because of that. I just looked at this team and figured that I would have a chance to play. I was pretty confident in myself that I could play at this level. It turned out great for me. Nobody really knew about me growing up and I never played on any select teams or any tournaments like that in the summer. So I guess that’s one thing that people don’t know about me.”

With the success that he has enjoyed this season and the NHL the way it is now, there is the possibility of an early departure for Parse. So when the time comes for him to go (whenever that may be), what does he want to be best remembered for?

“I’d liked to be remembered as just a good person and a great player to have on the team.
I’d like to be remembered for being a guy who was well-liked and good around the community as well.”

If he continues to perform the way he has been, Scott Parse will also be remembered for one more thing – the greatest player to ever wear the jersey of the University of Nebraska Omaha.

Copyright 2006 Hockey’s Future. Do not reprint or otherwise duplicate without permission of the editorial staff.