Five Minutes With Brendan Perlini, Niagara Ice Dogs

Brendan Perlini has had a real breakout season for Niagara. His play has him rising up draft boards and has helped lead the Ice Dogs into the thick of the playoff chase.

Last night I took in the game between the Ice Dogs and the Mississauga Steelheads.  With just two games left in the season and four teams fighting for two playoff spots in the OHL’s Eastern Conference, the game had a real playoff type feel to it.  Add in 10 busloads of LOUD Niagara fans packed into one corner of the building and it was a special atmosphere in the arena.

While the Steelheads came out on top, 2-1 in a shootout, the one point earned by the Ice Dogs combined with out of town overtime losses by Belleville and Ottawa were enough to clinch a playoff spot for the Dogs.

Of course I had a close eye on Perlini:  And here is what I said about him in our February preview.

10) Brendan Perlini, LW, Niagara Ice Dogs (6’3″,  195 lbs): Another one of our huge risers, Perlini has gone from a rank of 19 in November.  He just keeps on getting better and better, and the big jump in production from his rookie season just isn’t showing any signs of slowing down.  He exploded onto the scene this year with 28 goals and 61 points in 46 games.  Perlini has excellent height but could stand to put on muscle and play a more physical game.  However he is a very good skater, with excellent speed and acceleration, which he couples with very good agility, and strong balance to be deadly off the rush.  Possesses very good hockey sense, good creativity and excellent vision to be a dynamic playmaker with the puck on his stick.  Has good stickhandling, and a much improved shot and release. Perlini has really shown great improvement from last season to this.  The change in his game extends to all three zones as he is also showing off good defensive instincts. Quite simply, he’s been sensational this season, after a very mediocre year last year and has now cracked our top 10.  The sky is the limit for Perlini.

To update, Perlini now has 33 goals and 70 points in 57 games.  As for last night, he continued to show excellent defensive play in what was a tight checking playoff game.  He backchecks hard, and covers his man extremely well.  He has very good hockey IQ and you can see how he always makes sure to get the puck out of the zone when it comes near his side.  Offensively we saw good instincts last night, and he was in the right spots at the right time.  However, it was a bit of an off night for Perlini as he couldn’t seem to settle the puck down and it was bouncing off his stick at times.  He was also stopped in his shootout attempt.

While this was an off night, I wouldn’t be too concerned with it.  First off it seemed that the puck was bouncing on a lot of players last night.  Also this is a rare occurrence for Perlini, and I’m not going to let one off night overly influence my rankings of him when he’s been so good all season.

After the game Perlini was nice enough to have a quick interview with LWOS just after the Ice Dogs had learned of the out of town scores that clinched them a playoff spot.


LWOS: Welcome Brendan thanks for doing this.  

Brendan Perlini:  Thank you.

LWOS: Brendan, the game didn’t end tonight the way you guys wanted it to, but you did pick up a huge point and clinch a playoff spot.  Can you tell me a little bit about the mixed feelings?

BP: This year, it was our goal to make the playoffs, and that point helps us a lot to achieve that goal.  The last game of the season will decide if we are 7 or 8.  It was a very good game, and Mississauga played hard. Our guys battled hard as well and its always unfortunate to lose in the shootout, especially since we went 0 for 2.  We have another game Sunday and need to get ready to get right back at it and build to the playoffs.

LWOS: As you say, you guys will either be 7th or 8th in the conference.  It looks like you will either play the #1 seeded Oshawa Generals, or the #2 seeded North Bay Battalion in the first round.  What do you have to do to get ready for the series and be able to pull the upset?

BP: I think we need to get mentally prepared and rest up for the series.  Whoever we play will be tough.  They are two good teams, and they both bring a lot of speed to the table.  If our team comes prepared and ready to go, we can give them a good series though. 

LWOS: You joined the Ice Dogs half way through the year last year.  In the offseason the team lost its three top scorers.  This year you’ve had a real breakthrough and replaced some of that offence. Can you tell me what you’ve done to make such great strides in your game?

BP: I tried to learn off those guys, anytime I could.  (Ryan) Strome and (Brett) Ritchie had some things in their game that I didn’t, and I applied those little things to my game this year. We have a lot of young guys on our team, and I got the opportunity to step up and play a bigger role this year.  That’s what I planned to do from training camp and its worked out well so far.

LWOS: Do you have a favorite player in the NHL?  And do you try to model your game after anyone in the pros?

I try to make my style of game is similar to a Marian Hossa or an Evgeni Malkin.  I have really worked to develop my skill set of stick handling, and shooting.  They are both big bodies who can really skate as well.  If I can try to play similar to the way they do,  anything is possible going forward.  I know they are great players though, and I need to continue to work hard every single day to even come close to reaching that level, and thats what I try to do.

LWOS:  Thanks a lot Brendan and Good luck in the playoffs.


You can follow Brendan on twitter (@Bubzp11) and the Ice Dogs (@OHLIceDogs) or at their official website  as they get ready for the OHL playoffs.


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