WAUSAU – Adam Parsells nearly stopped playing hockey in middle school.
“I had played club hockey in Wausau up until seventh grade and I just wasn’t really feeling it. I told my parents, ‘I don’t know if I want to play anymore,'” Parsells said Wednesday. “But the next year I played for the Madison Capitols and it went really well, and sparked my development. It just totally changed my mind.”
Parsells, who graduated from Wausau West earlier this month, is expected to be selected at some point during the NHL Entry Draft this weekend in Sunrise, Florida.
“I never really thought I would make it this far, coming from a kid who didn’t know if he was going to play hockey after his eighth-grade year to an NHL Draft pick. It’s pretty exciting and pretty emotional,” Parsells said. “I felt I have come a long way since my freshman year and I couldn’t be happier with how things are turning out.
“My mindset is this is only the beginning. I have a lot of hard work ahead of me.”
West hockey coach Brian Brandt Jr. said he has read and heard reports that the 6-foot-5, 192-pound defenseman could be selected as early as the third round of the seven-round draft that begins Friday. Rounds 2 through 7 will be held Saturday.
“Adam has heard even as high as the second round, but most of the stuff I have heard is anywhere from the third through the seventh,” Brandt said.
NHL Central Scouting has Parsells at No. 94 in its final ranking of North American skaters.
“They are certainly attracted right away when you look at a 6-5, 200-pound defenseman who can skate and handles the puck really well. (The scouts) understood his physical skills, but I also tried to emphasize where (Parsells) was mentally, too,” Brandt said. “One of the biggest questions scouts asked me was ‘What is his work ethic like?’ I could just say that he is a kid who put the time in developing his game both physically and mentally.”
Former West standout Kevin Conley, who played for the Youngstown (Ohio) Phantoms of the United States Hockey League this season, could be drafted this weekend as well. Conley’s stock rose when he was named Team East MVP during the USHL/NHL Top Prospects game this past season.
Nate Condon was the most recent West player to be drafted. He was selected by Colorado in the seventh round of the 2008 Draft. Condon, who graduated from Minnesota last year, went to preseason camp with the Avalanche but ultimately played in Saprsborg, Norway for the Sparta Warriors.
“There’s no guarantee and that’s what is kind of killing me right now,” said Parsells, who committed to Wisconsin last spring and will play for the Green Bay Gamblers of the USHL this fall. “It’s nerve-wracking and there are a ton of emotions right now. I’m excited for it. I have watched (the draft) on TV and thought about my name being called someday.”
Parsells, son of Greg and Shelly, has been in Florida with his family since the start of the week, turning the draft into an extended vacation.
“We didn’t go anywhere for spring break, so it’s a nice little vacation to start the summer,” said Parsells, who recently went through tryouts to make the Gamblers’ 27-player squad.
He is projected to enroll at the University of Wisconsin in the fall of 2016 after playing a season with the Gamblers.
Brandt flew down to Florida on Thursday to be part of Parsells’ contingent, as well.
“Brian (and I) have built a really good relationship. He was my homeroom teacher for four years as well as my hockey coach in my senior year,” Parsells said.
“I owe a lot to him for my development, not only as a hockey player but as a young man, as well,” he said.
Parsells had seven goals and 24 points this season as West reached the WIAA state championship game. NHL scouts watched Parsells from the stands throughout the Warriors’ 29-game schedule this year.
“There were over 20 teams that I know of in the arenas to watch him, and then there’s obviously guys who didn’t come over (after the games) to talk to Adam or me,” Brandt said. “I thought he did a really good job in this process. As a 17- or 18-year-old kid, knowing who is in the stands watching you, and to perform like he was able to do, I thought spoke volumes about him.”
Tim Johnson can be reached at 715-845-0731. Find him on Twitter @timmyjo11.