With the CHL’s 2020-21 campaign delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the majority of the top young players across North America haven’t been able to continue their development since March, but those skaters could receive an opportunity to play in one of the most competitive hockey tournaments this winter if it indeed opens on Boxing Day.
For the Winnipeg Jets, the 2020-21 World Juniors tournament could potentially allow their 10th overall selection from the 2020 NHL Draft to participate in his first competitive game in nine months, if he makes the team of course. Participating in Hockey Canada’s Selection Camp in Alberta, forward Cole Perfetti is hoping to earn a spot on the roster and is looking to redeem himself from being sent home early around this time last year.
While Perfetti didn’t make the final cut in 2019, the 18-year old is confident he’ll be able to make a solid impression this time around, although he’s been forced to deal with some unusual circumstances this winter as all 46 players have been forced to quarantine due to a rising number of positive cases. Though dealing with this situation hasn’t been easy, the youngster explained how he’s utilized it as a learning experience and admitted it’s helped him improve his relationships with some of the other skaters in camp.
“It has been a mental grind, but I think it’s been a good learning experience,” said Perfetti to Mitchell Clinton of JetsTV. “Even though we’re not face-to-face, we’re spending a lot of time with each other over the internet and over video games. I’ve been able to do that and get close with them in that sense.”
Despite being stuck in his hotel room, Perfetti has been doing his best to stay in shape over this 14-day period, which includes morning workouts every day on a stationary bike – thanks to local gyms. Even though this certainly hasn’t been ideal for anyone, the 5-foot-10 forward discussed how he’s been focused on just maintaining his current body mass rather than putting on muscle along with getting out of bed as much as possible.
“We’re doing a pretty good job of staying fit and doing the most we can with the resources we have to be prepared when we come out in a week’s time,” said Perfetti. “We’re not putting on muscle, we’re trying to maintain, stay fit, and stay active – not just sit in our bed.”
Over 61 games with the Saginaw Spirit in 2019-20, Perfetti posted 37 goals, 111 points (career-high), 0.61 goals per game, 1.82 points per game, 244 shots on net, and earned 16:00 penalty minutes.
Considering the OHL shut down back in March, Perfetti was essentially thrown into the fire shortly after he arrived at selection camp, as he participated in his first live game in eight and a half months and was forced to compete against some of the best young players in the country. That being said, it only took the left-hander a few games to become comfortable on the ice once again and he didn’t have any issues playing his style of hockey after that point.
“It wasn’t easy to jump into your first game back in eight and a half months and it be a World Junior Camp game,” Perfetti said. “It took a period, period and a half to get used to it. But by the late second, early third in the first game and all the second game, I felt really comfortable. I was back in the groove and playing my game.”