All-Star Peverley keeps climbing the ladder

by Dave Boehler || AHL On The Beat Archive

peverley3_200.jpgIn 2004, Rich Peverley was an undrafted hockey player from St. Lawrence University.

In 2005, the Milwaukee Admirals brought him up from the East Coast Hockey League for a 25-game tryout.

In March 2007, Peverley spent time with the Nashville Predators of the National Hockey League.

Nice improvement.

"Absolutely. You appreciate where you are," said Peverley, a right wing who is in his third season with Milwaukee and was recently selected to play for the Canadian team in the AHL All-Star Classic.

"It’s not an easy road. You have to work your way up and you have to be able to go from being down to be able to keep positive. It’s not an easy business. You’ve always got to be prepared to move up or move down."

When Peverley, a 25-year-old native of Guelph, Ont., finished college, the NHL was in lockout mode and he did not have a contract.

So he spent the season with the South Carolina Stingrays with little chance of advancing to the AHL.

"It was tough, because in the American Hockey League, every team had about five guys down from the NHL that year," Peverley said.

Peverley started the 2005 season by playing 11 games with the Reading Royals of the ECHL.

That’s when Milwaukee gave him the 25-game tryout.

"It happened so fast, I really didn’t put too much pressure on myself," Peverley said. "I played a Friday night in Reading, Pa., and then Saturday night in Chicago. It was crazy. It all came at me so fast."

Milwaukee signed Peverley to an AHL contract and he finished with 46 points. He had 34 assists and was on the same Admirals’ line as current NHL players Scottie Upshall and Jordin Tootoo in the Calder Cup finals.

peverley2_200.jpgIn the 2006-07 season, Peverley scored at least one point in 10 out of the first 11 games for Milwaukee, and he had 38 points in the first three months.

Because of injuries, Peverley was called up by Nashville on March 4. That night, he recorded an assist at Anaheim.

"It was pretty eye-opening," Peverley said. "When I was in the East Coast (Hockey League), my main focus was the American Hockey League. I thought if I slowly work myself up to the American League, I could maybe get a chance in the NHL."

Peverley’s assist was the only point he would get in 13 games with Nashville, and he was sent back to Milwaukee in early April. He finished with 68 points (30 goals, 38 assists in 66 AHL games).

"I thought he played well when he was there," said Lane Lambert, in his first year as head coach of the Admirals after being an assistant last year. "I think he gained some valuable experience there."

Peverley did not make Nashville’s opening-day roster, but did get the call for a five-game stint at the end of October before being sent back to the Admirals. In spite of missing three games while on recall he still leads the team in scoring with 38 points, an average of more than a point per game.

"Whenever you’re a coach of a player like that, or a teammate of a player like that, you have a better respect for a guy who’s come from a long way and worked his way up," Lambert said. "Not only is it a respect thing, but it’s also, ‘If he can do it, I can do it, and I want to do it.’

"He’s paid his dues, paid the price and established himself into a terrific player. He’s a guy on the cusp of making that next step. He’s persevered."

Dave Boehler covers the Admirals for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel