Andover native Chase Perry was the latest hockey player invited to take part in the NHL’s scouting combine hosted in Toronto, Canada earlier in June.
Perry finished out his high school career as goalie for the Wenatchee Wild of the North American Hockey League last season and plans to move to Colorado College for the 2014-15 season.
The scouting combine is a chance for prospective draftees to meet with organizations and go through a battery of interviews and physical testing.
“I didn’t know what to expect,” Perry said. “But I knew a lot of teams would be there..”
Perry answered questions from 13 teams for an average of 20 minutes along with medical and physical testing.
Perry helped the Wild place third in the Midwest Division during the regular season (29-23-3-5) before losing in the second round of the playoffs.
He finished with a 15-12-6 record with a 2.34 goals against average, .905 saves percentage with two shutouts during the year. He backstopped the Wild to a Game 5 overtime win in the first round of the playoffs, making 48 saves in a 1-0 win against the Minnesota Wilderness.
A second Game 5 overtime game ended the Wild’s season by a 3-2 score against eventual league champion Fairbanks on April 27. Perry posted 23 saves but the Ice Dogs scored 2:12 into overtime to end the season.
Despite being away from home for the school year, Perry said the experience was rewarding. “We had an awesome season from the hockey to town and school, everything was great,” he said about living in Wenatchee, Washington and attending Wenatchee High School. Some nights the Wild drew 4,000 fans out of a community of approximately 60,000 people along the Columbia River, about 150 miles east of Seattle.
Perry and five teammates attended the same high school and quickly adjusted to the rigors of balancing hockey road trips and school.
“Traveling was tough,” he said as they would be out of the classroom for up to two weeks at a time during road trips. “We talked with our teachers and they would give us a big packet of homework. It was tough at first to get things going but by the second or third road trip it was fine.”
They made up for the lost class time with daily study hall sessions with teammates.
The team traveled as far as Pennsylvania and Alaska. The Wild would fly to the first opponent of a weekend series then drive to a second opponent’s city before flying home.
Perry was drafted by the Wild last May and attended a tryout camp later in the summer. He didn’t make the squad initially, but tried out again during a later prospect camp in Prior Lake and made the team.
Perry said the level of competition made him rise to the occasion.
“In high school you’ll usually have two-three guys move on to play hockey after high school but when you go to juniors everyone wants to give it their all to get to the next level so the competitiveness is a lot greater,” he said. “It was a wake up call for me too that first weekend of training camp. I really had to bear down and focus because I had pucks flying all over the place.”
Perry wanted to work on raising his competition level to take ownership of the goal crease. By midway through the season he shifted the focus to denying second and third rebound attempts to help the defensemen.
Perry, who is ranked as the eighth-best North American goalie by NHL Central Scouting, plans to attend Colorado College in the fall and compete for playing time behind senior Courtney Lockwood and two sophomores, Derek Shatzer and Tyler Marble.
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