July 23rd, 2024

Krebs, Parsons backbone of Tigers’ defence

By JAMES TUBB on March 9, 2024.

NEWS FILE PHOTOS Medicine Hat Tigers defencemen Dru Krebs and Rhett Parsons have been the steadying force on the blue line for a young Tabby team all season.

jtubb@medicinehatnews.com@ReporterTubb

The Medicine Hat Tigers two most grizzled defencemen have led the way this season and will have to continue at the front with playoffs on the horizon.

The top shutdown pairing of Dru Krebs and Rhett Parsons have chewed up a lot of minutes, eaten a lot of blocked shots and shadowed the league’s best players since joining the team.

Krebs is in his fifth season in the orange and black, with 273 games under his belt entering play Friday. Parsons isn’t far behind, despite starting a year later, with 213 games coming into the weekend.

The pairing has played a large role for the young Tigers the last couple of seasons, starting a majority of the games. The duo is first two over the boards on a penalty kill. It’s a role both take a lot of pride in and look to hone as games get more and more important.

“I love it, that’s something I pride myself on, I love playing defense and I love trying to try to stop their top lines,” Parsons said. “To do with a guy like Dru is pretty special, we’ve done a pretty good job and we need to keep that standard high as we play some good teams and players.”

“Rhett and I love the opportunity to be able to shut down the other teams, power plays, top players, it’s a fun experience to be able to help our team win in any circumstance possible and being able to do it with him is another cool thing,” Krebs said.

The duo has quietly collected points as the year has gone on, with Krebs at six goals and 26 points in 62 games and Parsons at five goals and 15 points in the same amount of contests, a career high in goals. Minutes played isn’t a number that is publicly reported but their average time on-ice hovering around 20-25 minutes per game. That would lead most teams in the league.

If it’s not highest, they’re trusted with some of the hardest minutes in the league associate coach Joe Frazer says.

“Some guys play 20 to 30 minutes but these guys are playing the No. 1 power play units every day and the number one line, so that’s 20 to 25 minutes where you’re playing against the best guys,” Frazer said. “It’s hard and we’re extremely lucky to have those two guys because it’s a tough job and a tough ask to have to do that. But they’ve been incredible all season for us.”

It’s a dedication to an unforgiving and non-flashy role that doesn’t go unnoticed by teammates and fellow defencemen.

“They’re obviously great players and they’ve done a lot for this team and the city for the four or five years they’ve been here,” Josh Van Mulligen. “They’re just unbelievable leaders and they play hard every night, they’re huge for us to win and they help me out with my game too.”

As two of the three 20-year-old defencemen on the Tigers blue line, their responsibility goes beyond the ice as they look to make the most of their last season. The duo have been regarded for insulating the backend for younger defencemen like Van Mulligen to get the experience needed for seasons to come after Krebs and Parsons have aged out.

“They have long careers ahead of them,” Parsons said. “So just trying to give them words of wisdom on and off the ice, that’s a big thing. Just help them wherever I can teach.”

Krebs can remember coming in as a 16-year-old and learning from playing with both Cole Clayton and Eric Van Impe, two players he says were role models for his game and how to handle himself in the league.

It’s an experience familiar with 16-year-old Tiger defenceman Matt Paranych who has looked up to Krebs and Parsons for lessons and how to do things the right way.

“They’re professional, I came in kind of a little bit cocky sometimes and they kind of put me in my place, but they hold me accountable and they’re really good guys in there,” Paranych said. “They don’t teach to get mad at you, but they teach you to teach you, they want you to learn from them.”

Paranych says the goal for everyone in the Tigers locker room has been to win a championship and says the idea of winning one for those two is even more special.

“Their names would be here forever, no one could forget about them,” Paranych said. “So to win for them, it would be very, very special.”

Tigers sign Brayden Ryan-Mackay

The Tigers announced Friday the signing of 15-year-old forward Brayden Ryan-MacKay to a WHL scholarship and development agreement.

The Calgary product was selected 119th overall by Medicine Hat in the 2024 WHL prospects draft. He’s in the South Albert Hockey Academy lineup with their U18 team, putting up 20 goals and 37 points in the CSSHL.

In a release Friday, Tigers director of player personnel Bobby Fox says the organization is excited to bring in the talent Ryan-MacKay possesses.

“Brayden is a tenacious forward with a motor,” Fox said. “He showcases a relentless drive and innate scoring instinct while disrupting opponents and creating turnovers with his unwavering determination.”

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