Knights' Perry a hit

MORRIS DALLA COSTA -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 9:49 AM ET

Call him a throwback. Call him a practitioner of a lost art.

But London Knight defenceman Todd Perry is bringing a skill that's disappearing back to the game.

Perry delivers, good, old-fashioned thundering, opening ice bodychecks.

It's an ability that causes opposing players to focus more on not winding up in the front row, rather than carrying the puck across the blueline. A solid, open-ice check often changes the course of the hockey game.

"I get a thrill out of a big hit almost more than I do scoring a goal," said Perry. "I try to make at least one big hit a game. It can really pick your team up. It also gives your team a little more room on the ice."

Perry came to the Knights in a trade early this season from the Barrie Colts. He's been a solid blueliner for the Knights but the highlight of his stay here has been those thundering checks.

Recently in Saginaw he nailed Jan Mursak twice with big checks. While Mursak remained in the game, he was ineffective after that. Friday night Perry caught Erie Otter's Zack Torquato coming across the blueline with his head down. Torquato must have thought a truck hit him.

The check brought the wrath of the Otters on Perry.

He was forced to fight Otters resident tough guy Anthony Peluso. Perry's a tough guy but he isn't a fighter. He hung in for a while but caught a right hand on the chin and that was it for the night.

"I feel fine," said Perry before the Knights-Windsor Spitfire game yesterday. "He caught me with a good one but the important thing is I didn't get hurt. I knew it was going to happen. He was one of their best players. I didn't want to fight but (Peluso) lined up against me and said, 'you haven't got any choice. You've got to go.' "

Forwards are most in jeopardy when they try to come across the ice on the blueline.

It's when Perry likes to do his most devastating work. His reputation as a big hitter causes forwards to either make their play sooner than they want or dump the puck into the corner rather than carry it across the line.

"You have to pick your spots," said Perry. "I like it when a forward is coming across the blueline. You can't just lunge at players because if you miss, you're in trouble."

Not only is bodychecking becoming a lost art on the part of players, there's so little of it being done that referee's aren't used to seeing it. Perry has been the victim of penalty calls on big checks that weren't penalties. A good bodycheck's effect can be so devastating, officials almost feel obligated to call a penalty, especially when a a big guy like Perry at six foot, four inches, 230 pounds does the delivering.

"It's frustrating because I do it as clean as I can," said Perry. "I'm a clean player but when you hit a guy and he's laying out on the ice, even though it's a clean hit, everyone thinks you're a dirty player."

It's a byproduct of playing the way Perry does.

"A good bodycheck keeps everybody with their head up," said Knights coach Dale Hunter.

Something the opposition is learning with Perry on the ice.


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