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SASKATOONEXPRESS - March 6-12, 2017 - Page 14

Mackenna Parker collected career highs in goals with 24, and points with 44 this season with the Saskatoon Stars. (Photo by Darren Steinke)

Parker joins elite company in stellar season with Stars

Darren Steinke Saskatoon Express here was a time when Mackenna Parker was intimidated to step on the ice with the Saskatoon Stars. Way back in the fall of 2014, the Clavet product joined the local female midget AAA hockey team as an underage 14-year-old player. The Stars roster that season was loaded and included forwards Sophie Shirley and Nara Elia, who were both turning heads with their stellar play before moving on to suit up for Canada’s under-18 women’s team. While any initial fears of belonging were high, Parker soon found a high comfort level.Aaron AS030611

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“Once I got to know them, it was amazing, and I had never felt such a great atmosphere in the dressing room with the girls,” said Parker. “As soon as I played for the Stars is when I realized that OK, I can take myself further.” During that rookie season, Parker went on to pile up 11 goals and 19 points in 28 regular-season games. Her goal total matched then 17-year-old veteran Courtney Cormack for the third highest on the team. Parker’s points total equalled best friend and offensive defender Willow Slobodzian for fourth on the club. Fast forward to the end of the current regular season and Parker’s status has

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JW030603 James

MEET YOUR SASKATOON BLADES Jackson Caller Height: 6’2’’

Defence

Weight: 175 lbs

2016-2017 Season: Saskatoon Blades League WHL: 58 GP • 0 Goals • 4 Assists • 20 PIM Favourite Pre-game Meal Penne Alfredo with Chicken Person I would most like to meet Carrie Underwood Drew Doughty Biggest pet peeve Best part of my game Mixing in with the mashed potatoes My skating and a good first If I weren’t a hockey player, pass I would be a Any nicknames? Architect Callz or Caller

w w w. s a s k a t o o n b l a d e s . c o m

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DOB: 15/07/1999 Hometown: Kamloops, BC

Favorite hockey memory Scoring the OT winner in Midget Favorite player

grown immensely. She helped the Stars win Saskatchewan Female Midget AAA Hockey League titles and appear in the Esso Cup national championship tournament in both 2015 and 2016. As a third-year 16-year-old veteran, Parker had a dream season from a personal standpoint. In 28 regular-season games, she collected career highs in goals with 24, and points with 44. Her point total was the highest for a Stars player since current Canadian national team member Emily Clark piled up 60 points in her final season in midget in 2011-12. Parker’s goal total was also the most for a Stars player since Clark and Kennedy Harris each had 26 goals in Clark’s final season with the team. “I couldn’t have done it without my teammates too,” said Parker. “It is not just me that puts the work in. “It is amazing to hear that my hard work is paying off.” In the summer of 2016, Parker enjoyed her first experiences on the international stage. She attended a women’s high performance camp hosted by the International Ice Hockey Federation in Finland. Last August, Parker took part in DS030601 Dan

Hockey Canada’s under-18 women’s team selection camp. From that camp, she was selected to play for Canada in a three-game series against the United States later on that month along with Slobodzian. Stars head coach Greg Slobodzian believes Parker has the ability to wear Canada’s national team colours in the future. “If she (Parker) sticks to how she plays and keeps working the way she is working, she is going to be doing what Emily Clark is doing, and that is playing for the national team. I have no doubt in my mind,” said Slobodzian. “She is so hard on her stick, disciplined. She is just doing all the little things right.” The bench boss said Parker has a lot of strengths in her game. Besides the obvious offensive abilities, Slobodzian loves the attention Parker pays to the defensive side of the game. She puts a lot of effort towards getting back to her own zone to backcheck. “She is one of the strongest athletes I have ever worked with, super dedicated and has just real natural athletic abilities,” said Slobodzian. “She shoots the puck better than I do. “She is a humble player. I always talk about being an honest hockey player and an honest person and that’s Mackenna.” Parker enjoyed her international experience last summer. “It was an honour to be part of the team too,” said Parker. “I want to get myself there again hopefully, and just try my best to do that again. “It was an honour, especially, to play with Willow (Slobodzian) too, who I grew up with. I was way more confident once I started playing with the Stars again.” Thanks to Parker’s efforts, the Stars posted a 25-2-1 mark for a team record 76 points in the standings. In the SFMAAAHL, teams earn three points in the standings for regulation wins and two points for extra time wins, and all of the Stars’ victories this season came in regulation. Saskatoon’s former record of 74 points was set in Parker’s rookie season in 2014-15 with 24 regulation wins, one extra time win. All eight teams in the SFMAAAHL make playoffs and the Stars swept a best-of-five first round series 3-0 with the Weyburn Southern Range Gold Wings. Parker had three goals and four assists in the sweep of the Gold Wings. The Stars face the Swift Current Diamond Energy Wildcats (11-10-7) in a best-of-five semifinal series. The Stars defeated the Wildcats in last year’s bestof-five league championship series 3-1. Parker has hopes of making a third straight trip to nationals. “It is super exciting,” said Parker. “Our goal is to make it to Esso (Cup), and we just have to keep working on that and push through in the playoffs.” (You can see more of Darren Steinke’s work in his online blog stankssermon. blogspot.ca.)

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Saskatoon Express, March 6, 2017  
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