One of the best ECHL free-agency signings of the recent summer might be that of Joe Perry.
The Nanaimo, BC native put pen to paper for the Orlando Solar Bears, affiliate of the Toronto Marlies and Maple Leafs.
Despite being over 3000 miles from his place of birth, Perry is thoroughly enjoying himself his time in the sunshine state, in what is just his third season as a professional.
After finishing his junior career in BC, Perry would go on to play four years at the NCAA III level for St. Norbert College (Wisconsin).
The right winger proved himself a consistent producer and during his last season led his team to a championship, as he topped the goal scoring charts.
The Quad City Mallards (Illinois) took an interest and Perry would feature in two playoffs games at the end of the 2013/14 season.
The Mallards had seen enough to procure his services for 2014/15 and the rookie forward repaid their faith in spades.
In 54 regular season games, Perry found the net on 26 occasions and added 17 assists. His play earned him a short spell in the AHL for the Iowa Wild. In six games, a sole assist would be all he had to show for his efforts and that’s the only opportunity Perry has had in the AHL to this point.
After an ECHL rights trade, Perry found himself beginning 2015/16 with the Alaska Aces.
Twenty games into the season, another trade saw him join the Fort Wayne Komets.
After netting just four times in twenty games for the Aces, Perry found himself more at home with the Komets – netting on nine occasions and producing 19 points through 24 games.
Quite where Orlando‘s expectations lay with Perry coming into this season is unknown but the teams poor start after high expectations, wasn‘t helping anyone‘s cause.
The right winger tallied four times during Anthony Noreen’s eleven game tenure, before the axe was dropped on the head coach. A record of .500 and terrible home form led to Noreen’s exit and former Solar Bears coach, Drake Berehowsky, was re-hired.
What’s followed has been nothing short of remarkable as Orlando lead the South Division at the Christmas break.
Perry’s penchant for finding the twine has been a huge part of the turnaround and he’s currently tied for fourth in league goal scoring.
In seventeen games under Berehowsky, Perry has netted 13 goals (including a hat-trick) and recorded five multi-point games.
What’s even more impressive is that over 75% of his goals have come at even strength and of his 23 points, 22 have been goals or primary assists.
With seventeen goals already, Perry is well on his way to breaking career highs and could easily find himself atop the scoring charts should he be able to carry this form into 2017.