While it was a tough week for the Winnipeg Jets’ franchise with their playoff elimination, the same can’t be said for Jets prospect Cole Perfetti.
The Jets’ first-round draft pick is back home in Whitby, Ont., after winning a gold medal with Team Canada at the World Championship in Latvia, helping make up for the silver medal he won at the most recent World Junior Hockey Championship.
“Winning never gets old and I haven’t done that in a couple of years, so that was a pretty cool feeling to finally get a gold medal,” said Perfetti. “I’ve already gone through my phone a couple times for pictures from the night we won and stuff like that. It was an amazing night and something I’ll never forget.
“Just looking back at the tournament, it was so much fun. I’m glad to be home and be with my family, but at the end of the day it was a great learning curve and a great learning experience, and so grateful I got the opportunity to play.”
Perfetti notched a pair of goals in 10 games during the tournament.
Canada started off the event with three straight losses but rebounded to win the gold medal game over Finland in overtime.
“People just counted us out,” he said. “We kinda used that as motivation. No one expected anything from us even when we squeezed into the playoff round. Everyone wrote us off losing to Russia right away.
“We just formed together and used that as motivation — all the people doubting us.”
It was quite the whirlwind season for the first-year pro that included a number of lengthy quarantines. It started with the disappointment of losing the gold medal final at the world juniors. That was followed by 26 points in 32 AHL games with the Manitoba Moose, and concluded with the still-19-year-old capturing gold playing alongside NHL’ers at the worlds.
But now the hard work really begins to prepare for his first NHL training camp with the Jets in the fall.
“I definitely know what I need to work on in the next couple months here before heading to Jets camp,” said Perfetti.
“This whole year has been major for me. Being able to play in the AHL, get the pro experience what it’s like to play with men. (I) kinda realize what I need to work on this summer to get to that next step. And then obviously playing at the worlds with a bunch of NHL guys — I was really happy with my play — I felt really good on the ice, really confident.
“Kinda made me realize there’s lots, and lots, and lots of work to do, but I’m not as far away as I thought I was, I don’t think.”