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Perkovich appreciates his unique family and LSSU's family atmosphere
Dec. 16, 2007
By MACKENZIE BARRETT, LSSU sports information student intern
Sophomore forward Nathan Perkovich, who was adopted by Danny and Jeanette Perkovich when he was five months old, is the oldest of five children. Nathan has two adopted brothers and two biological siblings who have formed a unique, mixed-race family that is very special, yet very normal for him.
"I like how hard he works. He's got a great family behind him, and I like how he carries himself with his family," Lake Superior State hockey coach Jim Roque said. "He's very appreciative of the life he's had and all that he has been given, of what he has been able to do with the opportunities that his parents have provided him. They are really good people, I really like how Nathan is not afraid to show his parents affection, as well as his other brothers and sisters, for all that they have provided for him."
"Hockey is a pretty small world, and the hockey family is pretty close," he said.
The thrill of playing hockey since the age of three and growing up in Canton, Mich., gave Perkovich opportunities to improve his game in many ways. He played on any team that he could and attended clinics around the state.
"In Michigan, you can always find good ice," he said. Perkovich helped lead Detroit Catholic Central High School to two state titles, then played three successful seasons with the Chicago Steel of the United States Junior hockey League.
Perkovich has always been a capable scorer, and he was picked up by New Jersey during the 2004 NHL Entry Draft after only two months of scouting.
"I was very fortunate," he said. "There were scouts with the right team at the right time. It was a good opportunity and I had to take advantage of it."
Last season, Perkovich shared the Soo BlueLiners' Outstanding Freshman Award with teammate Simon Gysbers. He was also co-leader in goals scored with 15, which was the most by a Laker since the 1997-98 season, and was the first Laker since 1999 to score a hat trick. He scored three goals against Michigan State in the CCHA Playoffs consolation game.
Perkovich has gotten off to hot starts during each of the past two seasons. He enjoyed a six-game goal-scoring streak from Oct. 14 through Nov. 3, 2006. This year, he scored seven goals through LSSU's first eight games before being shutout by Michigan. He is currently leading the Lakers in goals scored with 10.
"He's known as a shooter, he's got a great shot." said captain Troy Schwab. "He's a guy who likes to take control of the puck. When he shoots the puck near the net he's pretty successful."
"He's a pretty tall kid. He's strong on his skates and knows how to protect the puck with his body," senior assistant captain Dan Eves said. "He's got tremendous skill, good speed and he could be as good as he's ever wanted to be if he keeps working at it. The sky's the limit for him."
"You can't get better without playing more," said Perkovich, who credited his father for helping him develop his shooting touch. "My dad used to put down a thing of Plexiglas and I would shoot pucks into it. It's kind of stereotypical, but that's what you've got to do."
There is a lot of technique and muscle memory involved with the sophomore's sho,t but it's also about repetition and practicing every day to improve. Perkovich, who is 6-5, 200 pounds, is also trying to get stronger in the weight room.
"Being tall is an advantage out there with my reach, and as long as I try to get better in the weight room and get stronger, it's only going to benefit me in the long run," he said.
"On the ice he's got good hands, uses his body," said Roque, who also credits Perkovich for scoring timely goals. "He's very strong, strong for his height, hockey strong. He's a great competitive skater. He wants to win, and he wants to score. He just wants to play hockey. He has a huge desire to play hard and to do well."
Perkovich may also be in contention for this year's Gay Blade Award, which goes to the player who keeps things upbeat in the lockerroom.
"Off the ice, I like his personality," another teammate said. "I think he's a fun guy. He's one of those guys you enjoy hanging out with."
Perkovich is facing the opposing team's top defenders this season, which included a challenging first-half schedule. The Lakers open the 2008 portion of the season against three top-20 opponents, including top-five Michigan State and Miami.
"Our main goal is to get better as a team and we're not going to do that by playing weaker teams," Perkovich noted. "We're moving along, making big improvements on the ice and during practice. We're trying every day to get better. Everyone's learning, including myself. You learn new things and make mistakes, and you can always learn from those mistakes. You can take that and apply it to the next time it happens to you. It's all about getting better and helping your team get those wins later on down the road."
Lake Superior State Men's Ice Hockey