Drive4Five Meet and Greet Episode 3: “John Stevens and Parker Wotherspoon”

Welcome back to another episode of the Drive4Five Sound Tigers “Meet and Greet”! Today, we have John Stevens and Parker Wotherspoon. We were inside the Harbor Club this month.

This Month’s guests: Parker Wotherspoon and John Stevens

The players have come back from the locker room following a 3-2 OT loss to Lehigh Valley.

John Stevens Introduction: “I grew up in New Jersey. My hockey background is that my dad (John) was the coach for the Philadelphia Phantoms, then the Flyers. And now he is the coach for the Kings, so I’ve been around hockey my whole life. I played at Northeastern for four years. Played with my brother, who’s a senior this year. That was a lot of fun. Excited to be in Bridgeport and keep working this year.”

Parker Wotherspoon Introduction: “I grew up just outside of Vancouver in Surrey, BC. I got thrown into hockey after my brother; kind of wanted to follow in his footsteps, playing in the WHL. He’s playing for Stockton in the AHL right now in the Flames organization; played in Tri-City in the WHL.”

Q: “John, what was it like growing up, watching your father play in Philly, and ultimately become a coach? And would you want to play against his team, since he is the coach of the Kings?”

JS: “Yeah, you know, it was obviously a pretty cool experience to grow up and be at the rink all of the time and talk to somebody who has been around the game a long time and knows so much. I think it was a pretty cool advantage that not many kids get. My brother and I loved every minute of it. And yeah, I would love to play against his team, that’s why we are all here. Obviously we want to win here, want to get to the next level too, so that would be a pretty cool experience. I actually went into to see their game in Jersey the other night. Drove in Tuesday; it was tough to see them because they played the Rangers and Islanders on Friday and Saturday since we were busy as well.”

Q: “Now Parker, this is like your third go-around with the team, but now you are officially a member of the organization. Was the transition a lot easier this year, because you usually came in towards the end of the last two seasons?”

PW: “Yeah, I think there is a difference from the end-of-the season form to the beginning-of-the-season form. When I came in the first two times, I had played a lot and came in confident. This year, obviously, it has been a little bit tougher in the off-season, but yeah, taking my steps towards getting in every night and helping the team win.”

Q: “Favorite players growing up and favorite team?”

JS: “Growing up in Philly, I loved Mike Richards. I always try to follow the way he plays.”

PW: “Being a Canucks fan, I loved Dan Hamhuis. He was big then, when I had season tickets. I also love Duncan Keith.”

Q: “What inspired you to play hockey?”

JS: “My dad. I really looked up to him.”

PW: “My brother, who started playing when he was 7 or 8. My parents put me in at the same time.”

Q: “So John, you were playing in the Hockey East, and you played at Northeastern, which is in the middle of the huge hockey hotbed that is Boston. What was it like playing at home there, then playing at the historic arenas at BC, BU and Harvard? And what was it like playing in the Beanpot?”

JS: “Yeah, that is so much fun, very rarely do you see a college game sold out with 20,000 fans at the TD Garden. It shows how big hockey is. It is like a religious experience. Each rink has its own little tradition.”

Q: “Jokester in the room?”

JS: “Might be Helgy [Seth Helgeson].”

PW: “Might have to agree.”

Q: “Parker, what was it like to play in the WHL, and with the travel?”

PW: “Our division was pretty tight. Farthest was about four hours or so. Going up to Prince George and our Eastern swings, which would be two weeks, those are crazy. But they are fun too. Get used to the guys a lot more. You get used to the bus, and its somewhere to sleep. And playing against Scotty [Eansor] and Mat Barzal. And we played them ten times every year. And it was hard to play against Seattle, who won the WHL this past season.”

Q: “Roommates at home and roommates on the road?”

PW: “At home, I’m with Vandy [Vande Sompel] and on the road I’m with Schempp.”

JS: “I’m with Burroughs and Gibson at home. On the road, I’m with Burroughs too. Can’t really get away from the guy!”

Q: “You guys travel a lot from arena-to-arena. How do you find the ice conditions in each arena?”

PW: “Lehigh has good ice.”

JS: “Wilkes-Barre is good too. It really depends on what’s going on before you were there. Sometimes, we go into rinks and there are teams playing before us.”

PW: “Yeah, we went to Springfield last night, and they had something before us, and that hurt the conditions. It also hurts if it’s hot outside. The rink here has been better since the ‘hole’ against Hartford after Thanksgiving.”

Q: “Now, were either one of you recruited one way or the other, as far as the other option. Like for Parker, college instead of Juniors. And for John, Juniors instead of college?”

JS: “Growing up, I always wanted to play Major Junior. And, as I got older and older, I played up here at Salisbury, and played in the USHL and got more exposed to college. And I felt more and more that college was the right fit for me. I was drafted by Plymouth (now Flint) in the OHL, but I really wanted to go to school.”

PW: “For me, I got drafted in the first round of the WHL Draft, and beforehand they were always asking about college and they were worried about taking you. My brother played in the WHL, so I always wanted to as well, and I like the idea of leaving home young.”

Q: “John, how does it feel to be out there against a team where your father is kind of an iconic figure? Do you still know people that are with the organization?”

JS: “Not as much with the Phantoms, but a lot of the people with the Flyers are still the same. Same trainers, and people behind-the-scenes. It’s pretty cool, because my first game in pros was against the Phantoms, the team I grew up watching my dad coach and play for them.”

Q: “Music in the locker room, who controls it?”

JS: “It’s usually Jonesy. [Connor Jones] He usually has a good feel for the room most of the time.”

PW: “Depends on the day, one day it would be Eric Church all day, the next it would be something else.”

Q: “Other Sports?”

PW: “Baseball and soccer.”

JS: “Baseball. Played it growing up and in Salisbury.”

Q: “Parker, growing up with your brother, did you ever have any competitions at all?”

PW: “He’s like 4-5 years older than me and he’s a big kid, so we couldn’t really battle in many things. We played a lot of roller hockey growing up.”

Q: “What would you be doing for a career if there was not hockey?”

JS: “Golf.”

PW: “Probably scouting and watching sports, or coaching.”

Q: “John, since you played up here in the hockey hotbed of the New England Prep Schools with Salisbury, Kent, Avon Old Farms, and Taft, what is it like to play in that conference with all of those highly regarded programs? And with guys coming out, like former Sound Tigers Jeff Hamilton and Sean Backman, out of Old Farms.”

JS: “It was awesome, definitely a good league. Our team had like 13-14 D1 commitments, and a good league, with a lot of good teams so close together.”


Thanks to John and Parker for coming on for this month’s episode. We were not able to get an interview for January, which was with our friend Connor Jones and Sound Tigers All-Star Mitch Vande Sompel. Thanks once again to the Booster Club as well. 




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