It was a more comfortable experience for Parker Kelly at Ottawa Senators’ development camp earlier this month.
After earning an invite to last year’s camp, the Raiders forward was brought back for main camp and signed an entry-level deal with the Senators on September 19. This season, Kelly was armed with the knowledge of what was expected of him and what to expect from the camp in addition to seeing some familiar faces. Though, having a signed contract in his back pocket wasn’t on his mind.
“I try not to think about that, but now you’re there and working on development,” said Kelly. “You still try to impress, but that definitely is a little bit of weight off your shoulders with that contract.”
Kelly was put through the paces during the annual camp that featured on-ice training, off-ice strength and conditioning workouts, player specific meetings, and a three-on-three tournament to close out the proceedings.
His time at the camp addressed the goals he had for the upcoming season, which include getting stronger, faster, and gaining weight.
“Those are the main things I’m working on right now,” Kelly noted. “They hooked me up with a nutritionist to get the eating part down. There’s been a lot of little different things that are going on and they have a lot of great resources to help you meet your goals. It’s been a fun summer so far, so just looking to keep trying to achieve my goals.”
Kelly’s work at this year’s camp was noticed by the Senators as he was the co-recipient of this year’s Hardest Working Player Award, which was renamed the Jonathan Pitre Award in April.
Pitre, the Senators fan known as “Butterfly Boy,” passed away on April 4 at 17 years old from recessive dystrophic epidermolysis bullosa, which is a rare genetic mutation that causes the skin to blister and fall off at a touch. In 2014, Pitre was named an honorary scout after forming a bond with many of the players. He also raised more than $200,000 for research of the disease.
While Kelly never had the opportunity to meet Pitre, he his due diligence by researching the award’s namesake.
“I know that his name will live on and his legacy as well.”
“He was a very inspirational kid and had a lot of motivation behind his speeches. It looks like he loved the game, also. I wish I could’ve got to meet him, but meeting his mom was pretty cool. She handed out the award and just seeing how strong she was, it awesome to see. All in all, the whole experience, it was an honour to be given to that award.”
This season, Kelly had 59 points in 69 games for the Raiders and added three goals and an assist in seven playoff games. Following the year, Kelly was assigned to the Belleville Senators, Ottawa’s AHL affiliate. The Camrose product played in five games for the Senators and scored his first professional goal on a shorthanded breakaway.
“It was a fun time,” Kelly recalled. “I learned quite a bit and got a couple games in. It was a good eye opener to see what it takes to become a pro and how hard you have to work to even stay in the league. I think I’m going to carry over some of the things I learned into my on-ice training and we’ll see how it goes.”
That training will lead into the 2018-19 season, which will be Kelly’s fourth season with the Raiders. Kelly is excited for this season with the mix of veterans returning and prospects battling for roster spots.
“I hope all the guys are getting stronger and faster and whatnot and they’re coming back to camp ready to go. Seeing last year how it ended and what we did in the playoffs against the number one team in the league, I think for the fans it should be exciting to see what this year holds. I’m looking forward to it.”
Kelly has been hitting the links in his time away from a busy off-season of camps and training in Sherwood Park. In previous years, the competition for the team’s best golfer was between Kelly and graduating captain Curtis Miske. With Miske gone, Kelly has claimed the title of best golfer on the team.
“I don’t know have if I’m going to have much competition. The next closest to take my title is Brayden Pachal. We had a couple good rounds last year, but with Miske out this year, I think it’s steady number one for Mr. Kelly.”
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