McParland Ready for All-Star ClassicJan 16, 2017
“I just want to play my heart out and go from there.”
That’s Steven McParland’s approach to his rookie season in the pros with the South Carolina Stingrays. McParland graduated from Providence College with an NCAA championship ring, a Hockey East regular season title, and a wealth of experience that has allowed him to excel in the ECHL. After being scratched for two early games in October with South Carolina, it has been all uphill for the Schreiber, Ont. native.
As the weather in his hometown is 40-below, the Carolina heat has not affected the forward. McParland is ninth in the league in scoring among rookies with 26 points on nine goals and 17 assists. He credits his college coach, Nate Leaman, for his success thus far.
“He [Leaman] wanted me to be a shut-down guy, blocking shots, opportunistic with my chances, scoring when I can.” McParland said. “I just had to buy into that role. Coach Leaman always harped on playing the right kind of hockey and I just embraced it. It made me a better defensive player. Playing the defensive side of the puck leads to better offense. That really helped prepare me for the pros.”
McParland was named the ECHL’s Rookie of the Month back in November, and his 26 points is third-best on the team. He has earned himself a spot on the 2017 CCM/ECHL All-Star Classic roster. The ECHL places an emphasis on selecting players who have the potential to play at the next level and representatives from the NHL and the AHL will attend the annual midseason showcase. Since 2002, when the format was changed to feature younger prospects, 45 All-Star selections have gone on to play in the NHL. McParland is one of those next level players and he understands it’s an honor to be selected.
"I feel great that I’ve been seen to be that kind of a player,” said McParland. “It just motivates me to work harder and strive for that next level. It’s obviously a step in the right direction and it’s not really part of my season, but it’s nice to be able to showcase my talents to coaches and AHL scouts. While other guys are on break, I’m still trying to concentrate and hone my game. I’m really happy I have this opportunity and my family is going to meet me there, which makes it even better.”
The All-Star Game will air exclusively on NHL Network on Wednesday at 8 p.m. from the Glens Falls Civic Center in Glens Falls, New York. But playing on a big stage is nothing new for McParland.
“The atmosphere allows you to elevate your game and you feel the energy,” McParland said. “It’s a little bit nerve-racking, but once you settle in and the puck drops it’s just another game of hockey. You don’t worry about the cameras, you don’t worry about anything else. You worry about doing what you do best and doing the things that got you there and hopefully good things happen in your favor.”