Parker Forlin had an immediate impact with the St. Catharines Falcons.
The 16-year-old rookie scored one goal in his debut with the team and has three points in his first three games.
“Obviously it’s amazing,” Forlin said. “Guys have supported me throughout the story. Being really good for the first games really helped me with my confidence, so I’m just trying to keep that for the next games.
Forlin, who played in three playoff games for Thorold’s Blackhawks last season, had a feeling he would be able to make the jump from midget to junior.
“I thought I’d fit in right away,” said Forlin, a Grade 11 student at AN Myer. “I skated with a few guys over the summer and they made me feel welcome and before the first game it helped me to have that support and let me do my thing.”
Falcons coach Tyler Bielby inserted Forlin on a line with veterans Cam Knight and Nate Robertson and the unit clicked immediately.
“His wingers in 2002 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 aren’t too many guys in the league who can make plays the way he does, the way he sees the game. We thought giving him a bigger role from the start would show that we have confidence in his abilities from the start and hope that translates into his own confidence and it looks like it does.
Bielby said the Falcons have had their eye on Forlin since last season.
“He was a first signing for us in the offseason,” Bielby said. “Our conversation with him goes back to last year. We were watching him in the midget ranks. We were looking to see the 16-year-old players that we would like to carry and straight away forwards, he was the one our eyes were looking at coming from the region.
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. Just going there and getting that experience and translating that speed from that game to that game really helped me. It’s very different. The pace is a lot faster and you have less time with the puck so you have to make faster plays.Overall you have to think faster.
Forlin didn’t shy away when it was determined he needed more seasoning at the Junior B level.
“Not everyone can make it to the OHL in their freshman year, so I just want to come here and get bigger, stronger and faster and then come back next year,” he said. he declared. “You can’t worry too much about that. I’m here now and ready to win with these guys. It will be a fun year and I hope to learn from these guys.
Bielby was impressed with Forlin’s attitude after being fired.
“I don’t know what he’s thinking backstage, but I know he’s controlling his body language, he just seems to be grateful there’s frozen water to play on,” did he declare. “He told me on the way home from camp in Barrie how excited he was to start.
“He embraced it from the start.”
Bielby said Forlin has all the tools he needs to continue climbing the hockey ladder.
“First and foremost, it’s business. At a young age, he is just a hockey player. His approach, the way he behaves, is above all to improve. 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 is responsible in his own zone and will help the teams on the offensive end of the puck. His vision around the net and the way he puts things away will make him a complete hockey player on the road.
“As coaches, we think if he doesn’t spend the next three years in the OHL, maybe we’ve done something wrong. There’s so much high end on his side.
Forlin and Chris Reid scored in the shootout as the Falcons took their record to 3-0 with a 2-1 win over the visiting Pelham Panthers on Friday night at Seymour-Hanna Sports Complex.
Jordan Adams scored for the Panthers while Colton Chipman replied for the Falcons in regulation time.
Pelham keeper Keegan Jackson made 49 saves while Josh Johnson spurned 19 shots for the Falcons.
“I had to dig deep to get the win,” Bielby said. “The 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 get the pucks to the net. Pelham toughly defended and protected their home. They did a good job of blocking shots and making us work for our chances. You have to be prepared to go home and take the welts that come with it.
“We will regroup and focus on righting our wrongs on Sunday afternoon in Pelham. Lots of teaching at this time of year. As long as we keep working hard, the rest will come.
Pelham collected his 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 until the end and at the end of the day they are the Sutherland Cup champions from last year and it was 1-1 after seven minutes of extra time.
“At the end of the day it was a great game for us, a great confidence factor and we’re pretty happy with the results. The guys played really hard and they’re buying into the system.
The Falcons visit the Panthers on Sunday at 2:45 p.m.
Falcon Facts: Former OHL goaltender Ryan Ludzik has been added to the coaching staff as goaltending coach. . . Bielby has been named head coach of the Golden Horseshoe All-Stars who will face the Brock Badgers in an exhibition game next week.
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