The Stars’ cerebral sniper
Parker Forlin is the thinking man’s kind of hockey player.
The 16-year-old Niagara Falls native has overcome a lack of size thanks to his smarts and tireless work ethic.
Forlin, who is listed at 5-foot-7, 157 pounds, was second in scoring for the Niagara North Stars U16 AAA squad with 24 goals and 42 points in 23 games this season and is expected to be selected in the Ontario Hockey League draft this weekend.
“It’s obviously an exciting day,” said Forlin, a Grade 10 student at A.N. Myer. “As a kid you grow up watching the OHL and dream of playing in the league one day. I’m a little bit nervous but excited at the same time waiting to see where I go in the draft.
“I think I’ll just be happy to hear my name called and then going to training camp, it’s going to be a big off-season. You have to have the mindset you are going to outwork everyone and show up and hopefully make the team.”
Forlin has received several calls from OHL clubs.
“They want to know what kind of player you are, your strengths and weaknesses as a player,” he said. “They want know how well you perform in the classroom as well as on the ice.”
Forlin said he often compares his game to that of Tampa Bay Lightning forward Brayden Point.
“We have a similar stature, kind of a smaller guy, but very smart on the ice who doesn’t put himself in vulnerable positions with a good shot and good speed,” Forlin said. “He won’t blow you away with his speed all the time but he’ll kind of slow down and wait for a play to develop which is how I play.”
Stars head coach Ryan Berard praised Forlin’s hockey IQ.
“He’s probably one the smartest kids I’ve ever coached,” Berard said. “He lives and sleeps hockey.
“He’s just a hockey junkie.”
Forlin said he picked up his smarts from watching hockey.
“I think it comes naturally to me,” he said. “Growing up I watched a lot of hockey on TV and going to OHL games. Just pick a player on the ice and follow him and try to replicate him on the ice, someone who plays similar to you.”
Forlin, who said he thought he might have a chance to play at next level around the major peewee level, is used to playing against bigger opponents.
“I’ve been a smaller player for years now so it’s just trying to find ways to evade guys,” he said. “I found out the bigger guys can’t move as well laterally as some guys who aren’t as tall. Catching them flat-footed and changing direction quickly has been very important for me.”
Forlin performed well in a handful of games with the Thorold Blackhawks this season.
“Obviously it’s a big jump because you’re playing with people who as much as five years older,” he said. “It’s a physical league and there are people who know who you are and don’t want you to score so they’re doing all they can to prevent that.
“It’s a lot faster and it’s using all you speed and making sure you’re noticeable out there even though you are playing with older guys.”
Berard feels Forlin has all the tools to succeed at the next level.
“He has a junior shot and a junior mind,” he said. “For him it’s just going to the right place and working through the process and continue to work on his explosiveness, his first few steps. I’m confident if he goes that route his game will translate.”
The draft begins Friday at 7 p.m. with rounds 1-3 and continues at 9 a.m. Saturday with rounds 4-15.
Forlin intends to follow the draft with his family and a few close friends.
“It’s a very important time to be with my family so I wanted to make the most of it with them,” he said.
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