ESTERO, Fla. - Hours before he was to make his 11th consecutive start in net for the ECHL’s South Carolina Stingrays on Friday, goaltender Davis Parley shunned the notion that he was some sort of ironman.
“Every goalie wants to play as many games as he can, and I’ve been given a great opportunity down here,” said Parley, who leads the league in wins with 18. “It’s a good situation for myself.”
If he doesn’t mind never getting a breather, which, apparently, he does not.
Parley, 24, also started nine of the first 10 games of the season and has been in 31 of the Stingrays’ 37 games. His 1,848 minutes played and 31 games played were second only to Wheeling’s Andy Franck (1,968 and 34).
“That’s his job,” Stingrays head coach Jason Fitzsimmons said. “He’s in good shape, he’s a well-conditioned athlete and when we signed him this summer we knew he’d be our number one guy. I thought out of the blocks he was just OK, but he gives us a chance to win nine out of 10 times, and that’s all we can ask of him. There have been some games when he’s been phenomenal and stole games for us, and that’s what he gets paid to do.”
Even though he expected to get the majority of ice time, Parley thought 20-year-old Daren Machesney might spell him here and there, which the rookie did for seven games. But Machesney has been called up to the American Hockey League’s Hershey Bears, likely for the duration.
Machesney was drafted by the Washington Capitals in the fifth round of the 2005 NHL Entry Draft, while Parley was a fourth-round pick of the Florida Panthers back in 2000. Now in his fifth professional season, Parley is still awaiting his first call-up.
“I guess I’ve been kind of a mentor to guys like Daren and Maxime (Daigneault) last year,” Parley said. “They’re the same age as me or a little younger (Daigneault, Washington’s second-round pick in 2002, is 22). Every goalie wants to go up and play at the next level, but you have to be patient. I just need to keep working hard and hopefully my opportunity will come.”
Parley prepares the same for every game and doesn’t try to factor in pacing when he knows he’s in for a long stretch. He credits his offseason workout regimen for getting him ready for the grind, as well as the support he gets from Fitzsimmons, himself a former goaltender with South Carolina.
The past two seasons have been more of a challenge for all goaltenders because of the new rules designed to create more scoring. Last year, goaltenders’ pads were reduced slightly in size, and this year more power plays are being awarded, adding more pressure to the guys between the pipes.
“I think he’s a pressure goaltender,” Fitzsimmons said of Parley. “Coming down here this weekend he knows he’s got to be on top of his game or we’re going to get embarrassed, so he looks at it as a challenge. I think the new rules definitely don’t favor the goaltenders; there are a lot more power plays and situations where maybe your numbers aren’t as good as they have been in years past, but there’s only one number I’m worried about and that’s wins.”
Fitzsimmons thinks Parley benefits from knowing he’ll be in net for the long haul. The coach said it helps Parley’s mindset and his ability to focus and battle for the win.
The fact that the only help he might get is from the iron posts and crossbar behind him should only add to Parley’s ironman image.