By Matt Stefano
Welcome to week No. 2 of Thunderbirds Throwback Thursday!
In these Throwback Thursdays, we always take the time to reflect on past Soo Thunderbirds top scorers.
In last week’s edition, we went all the way back to the Thunderbirds inaugural season (1999-2000), when they were led in scoring by Patrick Jarrett.
But in today’s edition, we’ve decided to go all the way back to the 2006-2007 season, when they were led in scoring by rookie forward Brett Perlini.
After spending the 2005-2006 season with the Great North Midget League’s Soo North Stars, Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario product Brett Perlini was drafted by his hometown Soo Greyhounds in the 3rd round (41st overall) in the 2006 Ontario Hockey League Priority Selection, before joining the Soo Thunderbirds for the 2006-2007 season.
The 2006-2007 season was the beginning of a new era for the city of Sault Ste. Marie, as the brand new Steelback Centre was built downtown, replacing the old Sault Memorial Gardens (1949-2006).
The Thunderbirds, who normally play at the John Rhodes Community Centre, also had the opportunity to play a few of their home games in the brand new Steelback Centre during the 2006-2007 season.
Despite having their second worst season in franchise history (22 wins, 22 losses, 3 overtime losses, 1 shootout loss and 48 points), Perlini, as a 16 year old, led the Thunderbirds in scoring during the 2006-2007 season with 38 goals and 57 points in 48 games.
His 38 goals also finished tied for first among league goals that season with Sudbury Junior Wolves forward Brendan Biedermann.
Perlini, who was also dangerous on the man advantage, had 18 power play goals during the 2006-2007 season, which set the team record for most power play goals by a Thunderbird player in a regular season.
In 2007, Perlini became the fourth player in franchise history to win the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League’s Rookie of the Year Award, following Matt Caria (2005), Matt Hall (2003) and Patrick Jarrett (2000).
Following his first season with the Thunderbirds, Perlini then joined the USHL’s Ohio Junior Blue Jackets, where he scored 1 goal and set up 4 others in 19 games, before rejoining the Thunderbirds for the remainder of the 2007-2008 season.
In 2007-2008, Perlini had 32 points in 16 games with the Thunderbirds, helping them to 101 point season, which turned out to be their best regular season ever at that time.
But during the 2007-2008 season, three points were awarded for a win, instead of two.
Following the 2007-2008 season, Perlini then began a four-year NCAA career with Michigan State University.
One of the biggest days of Perlini’s life would then come on June 26th, 2010, after he was drafted by the Anaheim Ducks in the 7th round (192nd overall) in the 2010 National Hockey League Entry Draft.
The former Soo Thunderbird forward now a member of the EIHL’s Nottingham Panthers.