The Winnipeg Jets’ top prospect ended a remarkable nine-month period winning a gold medal for Team Canada at the 2021 IIHF World Men’s Hockey Championship in Latvia last weekend.
Picked 10th overall by the Jets last October, there was an undue amount of uncertainty as to how much hockey Perfetti could even play this season, given the Ontario Hockey League never even could play only one game.
But at a time when several of his friends and teammates were either kept away from the rink or unable to participate in the game, Perfetti was able to live a wide variety of experiences that he will not soon forget.
The latter was jumping over the boards and joining in the massive celebration after Nick Paul and Connor Brown converted an opportunity to overtime to win the gold against Finland.
“Not really the journalist type. All the experiences and everything that I’ve been through, I just try to soak it up when I’m there. Then look back, ”Perfetti said. “I have already checked my phone several times to take pictures of the night we won. It was an amazing night and something I will never forget, and it makes me smile just looking at the photos.
“Thinking back to the tournament already, it was so much fun and I’m happy to be home, to be with my family. At the end of the day it was a great learning curve, a great learning experience. I’m so grateful to have had the opportunity to learn, to be able to play. I don’t really document too much, I just live in the moment and think back and hope I only have memories in my head that I can replay. “
In addition to the many memories created, from the start of the compressed season preparing for Team Canada at the World Junior Hockey Championship in Edmonton to joining the Manitoba Moose of the American Hockey League, Perfetti achieved a significant achievement during of this season.
His ultimate goal of becoming an NHL player is much closer than he imagined when he joined the Jets organization last October.
“This year really made me realize that… it’s the best league in the world for a reason and it’s very difficult to take the next step in this league,” said Perfetti, who has nine goals and 26 points. in 32 AHL games this season. “There were some things I had to do to prepare for the NHL. But playing the last five months with the Moose and with Team Canada here, I’ve realized that I can handle the force, I can handle the speed. can go around corners and not get kicked back and be able to win battles and make plays as a result of those battles. It really opened my eyes, to realize that I am not far in strength.
“I can play right now and it will only get better as the summer goes on, as I get stronger and work more. It became even more beneficial for me to make this jump easier. I don’t think I would be here in this position without this year. “
Making this progress at 19 is impressive.
The Jets have some depth up front and it will be tough for Perfetti to land an NHL position right off the bat, but he’s determined to do everything in his power to influence that decision with a strong camp. training.
“This whole year has been important for me,” said Perfetti. “I realized what I had to work on this summer to take the next step. Obviously playing at the world championships with a bunch of NHL guys, I was really happy with my game. I felt great on the ice, very confident, able to do plays and I was very happy with the game. how it happened. It kind of made me realize that even though there is a lot, a lot, a lot of work to be done, but I’m not as far as I thought I was, I don’t think.
“I have proven myself a lot. I have shown that I can play with men’s physique all year round. Strength, speed. I can play games. Obviously it’s just going to be (to) become a man, have more strength, that natural strength and stuff like that, that’s going to come from being in the gym and that. It has been a great year for me in terms of confidence, realizing where I am and how much work needs to be done. I really know what I need to work on over the next few months here before I leave for camp for the Jets. “
Perfetti is back home in Ontario and plans to spend time with his family before embarking on his summer training.
The isolation of spending countless hours in quarantine or in a bubble environment has been taxing, but Perfetti’s ability to soak up moments and genuinely enjoy being on the ice when many players have failed. not been able to do so is something that will serve him well. .
“I am very grateful and grateful for the opportunity that I have had. A lot of my close friends from Saginaw and the OHL couldn’t even play hockey. They lost a whole year of development, ”said Perfetti. “It has been a pretty busy year. In a year when a lot of kids didn’t have the chance and suffered, I was fortunate to have chances and to take the next step, to be a better hockey player. I am very grateful and very grateful for all the opportunities and chances that have been given to me this year in a difficult year. “
Getting the chance to play in the AHL with the Moose is something Perfetti wouldn’t have been able to do under normal circumstances.
Realizing that nothing in this pandemic season was normal, it gave Perfetti an exceptional opportunity to get a head start on his professional career and see how he fares.
Not only was Peretti able to show his versatility playing both center and wing, but he also earned the trust of Moose head coach Pascal Vincent and played a leading role.
As he worked through the adjustment process, Perfetti delivered much of his output to the power play, using his vision, intelligence, and spatial awareness.
But as the season progressed, Perfetti began to settle in with equal force and although he is considered an excellent puck distributor who sometimes displays a passing mentality first, he has a great shot. and showed that he was not afraid to use it.
Among the scoring goals Perfetti has scored this season has been a flare up against Freddie Andersen as the goalie was in physical condition with the Toronto Marlies.
Perfetti added a pair of goals in 10 games at the world championship, including the game winner against Kazakhstan.
After losing 2-0 to the United States in the gold medal game at the World Junior Championships in January, Perfetti was delighted to end their exhilarating season on a winning note.
“Losing that gold medal game (at the world junior hockey championship) was pretty tough. Obviously, by continuing in this tournament, we were in the gold and we went into overtime. All I could think of was never wanting to have that feeling of losing again, ”said Perfetti. “It’s been a long and eventful year, but it’s been an amazing year and being able to finish it with a gold medal and come home with that and be a world champion, is something quite special. It was just a perfect way to end my first year as a pro and this amazing journey that I have been on.
“Being on the ice was crazy. I remember I couldn’t get off the boards fast enough when (Nick Paul) scored. I was dying to step over the boards, throw my gloves in the air and start celebrating. There It was so much excitement, so much joy. It was unbelievable. Winning never gets old and I haven’t done that in a few years, so it was pretty cool to finally get a gold medal and win with Hockey Canada.