As the Twin City Steel coaching staff and players ready themselves for their first contest of the 2012-13 season on September 15, Minnesota Golden Gophers’ defensemen Jake Parenteau and Ben Marshall stopped by the Steels’ home rink, The Vadnais Heights Sports Center to remind Steel teammates what junior hockey did for them.
Parenteau and Marshall were both on the ice with the team during their Tuesday afternoon practice and stuck around after to speak with the guys about their own hockey stories and how playing junior hockey developed them into the players they are today. Parenteau and Marshall both played junior hockey before signing with the Gophers.
Parenteau played 3 years of junior hockey, with 2 teams and began his junior hockey career playing in the Tier III ranks –like many of the Steel players today. Parenteau went on to win the team’s Rookie of the Year award and then packed his bags for Anchorage, Alaska where he played for the Alaska Avalanche of the North American Hockey League (NAHL) for two seasons. Parenteau finished tied for first among defensemen in the NAHL in points in the 2009-10 season with 47.
Marshall has a different story. He played in one season with the Omaha Lancers of the United States Hockey League (USHL) which is a Tier-1 league. Marshall led all Omaha defensemen in scoring and was selected to the All-USHL Second Team and the USHL All-Rookie Team during his lone season with the Lancers. His talents didn’t go unnoticed, as the Detroit Red Wings selected Marshall in the seventh round, 201st overall, in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft.
As Marshall lived away from home for just one year, Parenteau took the respectively “rougher road” of junior hockey living with billet families all three years. In the end, both ways paid off.
Parenteau expressed that if it wasn’t for his choice of playing junior hockey that he would not be wearing the ‘Maroon and Gold’ windbreaker he was sporting that day. Crediting his former coaches/players as inspiration, Parenteau’s incredible work ethic was an essential asset that helped pave the way to him being the accomplished young hockey player he is today.
Both Gopher defensemen took the time after practice to convey to the Steel players how important off-ice training is. Both players mentioned that in-order to compete at the next level, as that’s the goal for every Steel player; nutrition and working out off the ice are just as important as the skills the Steel players demonstrate on the ice. Both defensemen stressed to the Steel players that taking care of their bodies off the ice is a vital ingredient to progress to the next level.
Hockey is unlike any other sport. Young hockey players have tough lives as they strive to reach their goals of becoming a professional. These players have to decide as teenagers that living away from home might be most beneficial to their careers. The Steel team took what Parenteau and Marshall spoke about and gained true insight on what it would take them to get to that next level.