It's an ice dream for Ravens

DON BRENNAN -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 7:08 AM ET

For a first-year hockey team, the Carleton Ravens will be hitting the ice this fall with plenty of experience.

Thousands of Ontario Hockey League games worth, in fact.

After a year of recruiting, coach Fred Parker should have between 10-13 former OHLers on his team when the Ravens open their first season in 33 years with back-to-back games vs. the Gee-Gees Oct. 5-6.

"I tried to contact everybody I could with a connection of some sort to the city, and zeroed in on them," said Parker, who, aided by his own experience as a Kitchener Ranger assistant coach (one year) and scout (four years), also searched for a specific quality. "For a first- year team, I felt it was important to have guys with character. Character was obviously at the forefront."

Prominent in Parker's core will be defenceman Brodie Beard, who played 236 games over the past five seasons with Brian Kilrea's 67's.

"Killer told me right away (Beard) was one of the best kids, as a person, that he ever had," said Parker.

The list of ex-OHLers on the Ravens will also include defencemen Brad Good (Soo Greyhounds) and Dan Gyenes (Kitchener Rangers), centres Jared Cipparone (Windsor Spitfires) and Clay McFadden (Kingston Frontenacs, Oshawa Generals), wingers Justin Caruana (Peterborough Petes), Andrew Gibbons (Oshawa, Soo, Belleville), winger Andrew Self (Windsor, Belleville, Sudbury).

They'll be working mostly in front of Doug Jewer, last season's best goalie in the CJHL with the lowly Kanata Stallions.

"I just wanted to make sure we hit the ground running," Parker, who has added former Hull Olympiques great Marty Johnston to his coach staff, said when asked for the targeted number of wins in the team's inaugural season. "I want to represent Carleton in a certain manner that alumni will come out and watch us, be proud of the way we play. The expectations are we're competitive every night. As far as wins and losses, I'm not into measuring the team by that, yet. We're rookies here. We'll figure it out as we go."

SON OF PAT PARKER

Parker, the son of former CJHL president Pat Parker, attended J.S. Woodsworth the same time as Gee-Gees coach Dave Leger. He was a defenceman in the Nepean Raiders system and went on to play at St. Francis Xavier before getting into scouting, then coaching. He was eager to accept the position as coach of the first Ravens team since 1974 and used last year to not only recruit, but see what he was up against as he coached a Carleton club team in exhibition games against OUA competition.

Three or four members of that team "showed they have the commitment level" to make this year's Ravens, Parker figures.

Because Ontario forbids the offering of hockey scholarships and Parker is allowed to promise only $3,500 toward tuition and books for players that have at least an 80% average, Carleton has had to be creative. Parker has joined the 67's in hosting a hockey school at Carleton that has been an immediate success in its first summer, drawing more than 500 kids at all age levels and from as far away as Scotland and Switzerland.

Raven players are given employment and work alongside 67's such as Jason Bailey and assistant coach Tim Higgins as instructors. The school also works to find part-time job opportunities for Ravens within the Ottawa area.

"My gut instinct is, if you build it, they will come," Parker said of the Ravens program that has a distinct disadvantage against schools elsewhere in the country that can offer players a full-ride. "We get the program started, make it strong and guys will want to stay in the city after their junior careers are over. They don't have to go 14 hours away. It's a great city ... and it's a much shorter trip for their girlfriends."

Camp opens Sept. 7.


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