Falcons edge Panthers in shootout
Parker Forlin has made an immediate impact with the St. Catharines Falcons.
The 16-year-old rookie scored a goal in his debut with the team and has three points in his first three games.
“Obviously, it feels amazing,” Forlin said. “The guys have been supporting me through the whole thing. Being really good for the first few games has really helped me with my confidence so I’m just trying to carry that over for the next few games.”
Forlin, who played three playoff games for the Thorold Blackhawks last season, had an inkling he would be able to make the jump from midget to junior.
“I kind of thought I would fit in right away,” said Forlin, a Grade 11 student at A.N. Myer. “I skated with a couple of the guys over the summer and they made me feel welcome and going into the first game it helped me to have that support and just let me do my thing.”
Falcons coach Tyler Bielby inserted Forlin on a line with veterans Cam Knight and Nate Robertson and the unit immediately clicked.
“His 2002 wingers have embraced him and I think that really helps,” Bielby said. “He knows they believe in him so he just has to go out there and do his thing.
“Even at his age, there’s not too many guys in the league that can make plays the way he does, the way he sees the game. We thought giving him a bigger role right from the get-go would show we’re confident in his ability early on and hopefully that would translate into his own confidence and it seems like it’s done so.”
Bielby said the Falcons had their eye on Forlin dating back to last season.
“He was an early signing for us in the off season,” Bielby said. “Our conversation with him went as far back last year. We were keeping an eye on him in the midget ranks. We were looking to see the 16-year-olds we would want to carry and right away from the forwards he was who our eyes were on coming from the area.”
Forlin was drafted in the fourth round, 73rd overall, of the 2022 Ontario Hockey League draft by the Barrie Colts and attended their training camp.
“It was an amazing experience,” he said. “It’s a tough league to play in. Just going there and getting that experience and translate that speed from that game over to this game has really helped me. It’s a lot different. The pace is a lot faster and you have less time with the puck so you have to make plays quicker. You overall have to think faster.”
Forlin didn’t sulk when it was determined he needed more seasoning at the junior B level.
“Not everyone can make the OHL in their first year so I just want to come here and get bigger, stronger and faster and then go back next year,” he said. “You can’t worry about that too much. I’m here now and ready to win with these guys. It will be a fun year and hope to learn from these guys.”
Bielby was impressed with Forlin’s attitude after being sent back.
“I don’t know what he’s thinking behind the scenes but I know the way he’s controlling his body language he just looks like he’s just grateful there’s frozen water to go play on,” he said. “He messaged me on his way home from Barrie’s camp about how excited he is to get going.
“He’s embraced it right from the beginning.”
Bielby said Forlin has all the necessary tools to keep advancing up the hockey ladder.
“First and foremost, it’s all business. At a young age he’s just a hockey player. His approach, the way he handles himself, it’s all about getting better. The attention to detail, and you can tell he’s still young enough to thoroughly enjoy the game for what it’s worth,” he said. “He’s going to be a 200-foot player. He’s responsible in his own zone and is going to help teams on the offensive side of the puck. His vision around the net and the way he puts things away is going to make for a well rounded hockey player down the road.
“We feel as coaches if he’s not spending the next three years in the OHL then maybe we’ve done something wrong. There’s that much up-end on his end.”
Forlin and Chris Reid scored in the shootout as the Falcons ran their record to 3-0 with a 2-1 win over the visiting Pelham Panthers Friday night at the Seymour-Hanna Sports Complex.
Jordan Adams scored for the Panthers while Colton Chipman replied for the Falcons in regulation.
Pelham goaltender Keegan Jackson made 49 saves while Josh Johnson kicked out 19 shots for the Falcons.
“Had to dig deep to get the win,” Bielby said. “Ice was tilted at times, but our perimeter play in the O-zone was a little too passive and we have to work harder to bring pucks to the net. Pelham defended hard and protected their house. They did a good job of blocking shots and making us work for our chances. Have to be willing to get to the house and take the welts that come with it.
“We will regroup and focus on correcting our wrongs Sunday afternoon in Pelham. A lot of teaching this time of year. As long as we continue to work hard, the rest will come.”
Pelham picked up their first point of the season after two losses last week.
“Our guys played really well,” Pelham general manager Tim Toffolo said. “They stuck to the game plan to a tee and at the end of the day they are last year’s Sutherland Cup champs and it was 1-1 after seven minutes of overtime.
“At the end of the day it was a great game for us, a great confidence builder and we’re quite happy with the results. The guys played really hard and they’re buying into the system.”
The Falcons visit the Panthers Sunday at 2:45 p.m.
Falcons facts: Former OHL netminder Ryan Ludzik has been added to the coaching staff as goaltender coach . . . Bielby has been named head coach of the Golden Horseshoe all-stars who will take on the Brock Badgers in an exhibition game next week.
Dear reader. If you liked this story or one of the 4,400 other stories found on our website, please consider hitting the Support Us button on the right-hand side of our home page and making a PayPal contribution to our website. Your support would be much appreciated. If you are a business owner, please consider advertising on our site. Our rates are reasonable and we provide plenty of exposure for your business. Contact email@example.com for more information.