SUMMERSIDE - Every year, regardless of what sport, teams experience pleasant surprises and disappointments.
Sophomore forward Colton Parsons' performance in the first half of the 2012-13 MHL (Maritime Junior Hockey League) regular season certainly falls under the category of pleasant surprises.
"Colton has been outstanding for us this season," said Capitals head coach Bill McGuigan. "Last season, he was good as well.
"(Assistant coach) Timmy Schurman was a guy who always vouched for Colton last year, and his indications on how the kid can play were right. He improved his skating this year, and he's always been strong on the puck, but he's a real smart player.
"He's good on both sides of the puck, he has tremendous offensive capabilities and he's getting quicker. He's been the total package for us this year, not to mention that he's one of the nicest, coachable kids you could ever have on a hockey team. He's just a great kid with a lot of upside."
Parsons, a 19-year-old from Kingston, N.S., recorded 24 points, including eight goals, in 45 regular-season games with the Caps a year ago.
"Coming in last year as a rookie I didn't really know what to expect," said Parsons. "This half of the season I'm pretty happy with.
"I wanted to be at about a point a game, and that's pretty much where I'm at."
In fact, he's slightly over that pace with 35 points, including 13 goals, in 32 games. Parsons was third in team scoring, but dropped to fourth with Friday's acquisition of the league's top point-getter, Danny Chiasson.
"There was a stretch halfway through the first half I was getting frustrated, but I just kept plugging away," admitted Parsons, who is tied with a team-leading five power-play goals. "The last six games I've been doing alright."
Parsons will take a six-game point streak into the Capitals' game in Campbellton, N.B., on Friday, and he has recorded points in 21 of the team's 32 games. He has registered at least a point in 12 of the Caps' last 16 contests.
"He (Parsons) earned his job here last year, and then he earned his job this year," said McGuigan, who back before the regular season opened described Parsons as the team's best player in training camp. "He's obviously one of our top six players right now."
Parsons, who has been playing on a line with Chris Caissy and Justin Rasmussen, has had 12 multiple-point games this season, including a pair of season-high three-point efforts.
"Caissy is a good shooter for sure, and Raz does a good job in the middle, and wins a lot of draws," said Parsons, who admits he is more of a play-maker than a sniper.
Parsons said a big key to his increased production this year is his improved skating.
"Billy told me to pick it up skating last year," said Parsons, who admitted he found himself behind the play some in Year 1. "I'm glad he (McGuigan) did because that's what made me improve the most. . .
"This summer I worked a lot on skating, and now that I'm skating harder I'm doing better than I thought."