BANGOR, Maine — Parker Sanderson hopes to play Division I hockey someday. And he would love to do so in a University of Maine jersey.
To reach that goal the 2012-13 Travis Roy Award from Bangor High School is going to further his hockey and academic education by playing for the Walpole (Mass.) Express (Junior A-amateur) hockey team next season.
Sanderson, a left winger who can also play center, tallied 25 goals and 26 assists en route to becoming Bangor High’s first Travis Roy Award winner. The award goes to the state’s top Class A senior player.
Sanderson tried out for the Express along with 75-100 other players on April 19 and earned a roster spot.
“I think they had only three or four spots open. The tryout went real well,” said Sanderson.
“I’m super excited about it. I can’t wait,” he added.
Sanderson had been offered contracts by the Maine Moose and Portland Junior Pirates but close friend and former Bangor High School player Nic Cota plays for the Express and painted a positive picture of the organization.
“He told me he fell in love with the program. You get more exposure through junior hockey and you can take [college] classes to help get some of your basic courses out of the way. That helped me in making my decision,” said Sanderson.
Sanderson said he is allowed to take two classes per semester.
Jon Lounsbury, who will the Express’s first-year coach after serving as the head coach and director of hockey at Bridgton Academy, said he is looking forward to having Sanderson on board.
“He brings a good attitude, good on-ice vision and he has a knack for the net,” said Lounsbury. “There is a definite upside to him. He’s a high-character kid.”
Sanderson estimated that Express will cost him $5,000 next season and he will live with a host family.
The Express will play 44 league games and 11 exhibitions before the playoffs. High school teams in Maine are allowed to play just 18 regular season games.
Sanderson said playing more games and against a high caliber of players will be extremely beneficial in his development.
“The competition will be a lot better. It won’t be anything like high school,” he said. “This will be more hockey and less school.”
The 18-year-old said he can play up to two seasons of junior hockey, and he knows he has to make significant strides to play at the Division I level.
“I’ve got to get bigger and stronger and increase my speed and skill. I have to become more explosive [as a skater],” he said. “My eventual goal is Division I but I’m not there yet physically. I plan to spend a lot of time in the gym [and weight room].
“I would love to play at Maine. I don’t know if I’ll get the opportunity. But maybe through hard work and dedication I’ll get a look,” added the 5-foot-11, 175-pound Sanderson.
Even though he was a left wing at Bangor High, he played mostly center at the tryouts and said he preferred it because a center has more responsibilities and a little more time to assess situations and react.
Lounsbury said developing foot-speed will be a key for Sanderson.
“The game is a lot faster,” said Lounsbury. “And the guys have to work on their explosiveness. To play at the next level, they need to be strong at the hips and the core. It is a game of men at the college level, not boys.”
Sanderson, a Houlton native who transferred from Houlton High to Bangor for his junior and senior years and was a first-team All-Eastern Maine Class A player both years, will play in some tournaments over the summer to prepare for next season.
He said moving to Bangor was critical in his development.
“The Bangor school system helps you develop in every way possible,” said Sanderson, who also played golf and baseball at Bangor High.