Peralta finds success in OHL, OUA

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Sal Peralta

Jon Purdy

IF THEY NAMED A DISH AFTER HIM, THEY COULD CALL IT THE SAL-AD. WAIT, SOMEBODY TOOK THAT ALREADY. Mustangs sniper Sal Peralta has made a name for himself at both the junior and university level.

Though Western’s men’s hockey team fell short on its quest for a second Queen’s Cup title in three years, next season looks promising thanks to winger Sal Peralta, a third-year King’s management and organizational studies student and team veteran.

While Peralta contributes significantly to Western’s success, he’s the first to admit he doesn’t do it alone.

“My teammates are the most important thing,” Peralta says. “This has been the best bunch of guys in one dressing room that I have played with, and I’m proud to be a Mustang.”

This is high praise coming from a former OHL teammate of current NHLers Jason Spezza and Kyle Wellwood with the Windsor Spitfires. But there is one distinct difference between the two leagues.

“The OHL is all about working to make yourself into an NHL prospect,” Peralta says. “[Ontario University Athletics] has different goals, which are earning a degree while still trying to win a championship and be a part of something special in the game you love.”

When listening to Peralta’s teammates and coaches, it’s obvious they appreciate his presence.

“Sal is a pretty dynamic player on the ice,” says Mustangs head coach Clarke Singer. “He’s the type of guy that could beat [the defence] one-on-one to score a highlight-reel goal.”

Teammate Steve Benedetti echoes such sentiments.

“He works hard and comes to every game ready to compete, [but] it’s when he does the little things like getting the puck in deep [that matters most],” Benedetti says.

While Peralta finished the regular season with six more points than him, Benedetti says competition for the team scoring title was never an issue.

“I think we both want to see everyone on the team do well,” Benedetti says. “When one guy is playing great, it makes everyone else work that much harder.”

Though Peralta may not pursue a hockey career, he can always look back on his career and know he shares something unique with Wayne Gretzky.

The Great One was a winner of the William Hanley Award, given to the OHL’s Most Sportsmanlike player. Peralta was nominated for the award after the 2003-04 season and, although he didn’t win, he agrees it’s a formidable achievement.

“It’s always a great honour when you’re nominated for Most Sportsmanlike,” he says. “’Cause it’s a big part of not only the game of hockey, but just the way you represent yourself on and off the ice.”

Peralta has had to adjust to commitments off the ice but he’s happy to have experienced the challenge.

“The most valuable lesson I’ve learned playing at Western is how to manage school and hockey at the same time while still having fun and hanging out with my teammates, friends outside of hockey, and my family,” Peralta says.

“There is a lot to get accomplished while still enjoying my time here.”

Peralta is probably summed up best by his coach.

“He’s a real quality young man, to be honest with you,” Singer says.

It’s believable, too. Peralta seems like the complete package, both on and off the ice.

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