Since joining the Kingston Frontenacs in 2012, the hockey life has changed for Luke Peressini. The now 25-year-old goaltender spent four years with the Frontenacs, before moving onto a U Sports career at Western University that allowed him to continue playing while pursuing a university education.
Eight years after hitting the ice in Kingston, he has signed a professional contract with the ECHL’s Reading Royals, an affiliate of the NHL’s Philadelphia Flyers.
As Peressini embarks on his professional career, he fondly remembers his time at each stop. In Kingston, his greatest memories came off the ice, as he recalls the friendships made and roaring crowds through his time in black and gold.
“The best memories were off the ice. I’ve still got friends on that team that I still talk to this day,” said Peressini looking back at his former teammates, “We had three really good years and we had a strong team every year, we were expected to win, and the fans came out; all that was really memorable.”
As his time in Kingston wound down, Peressini had a decision: Move onto professional hockey or take advantage of the Canadian Hockey League’s education package and play university hockey?
The decision was far from easy, but in the end, it was right.
“It was tough [making the decision] at the time, I was with the AHL Cleveland team, and I was sort of the third goalie there. Clarke Singer [Western’s Head Coach] convinced me to join the Mustangs and looking back, it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.”
He appeared sporadically through his first two years with the Western Mustangs, where he was a teammate of current Kingston Frontenacs Southwestern Ontario and Goalie Scout, Zach Springer, but in his fourth and final season, he helped the school reach some of their greatest heights in men’s hockey. While working towards a Bachelors BMOS Accounting degree, the Toronto-born Peressini backstopped the Mustangs through an exceptional run in the 2019-20 university season.
Western was the eighth seed in the OUA (Ontario University Athletics) West, nobody expected them to do anything in the playoffs. “I think we knew we had one of the better teams, and we were disappointed by our regular season and we all thought we could put it together,” Perresini said, and put it together they did.
The former Frontenac caught lightning in a bottle, as the Mustangs went on to knock out the number one seeded University of Toronto in a best of three series, which included a 43 save performance in Game 2. While the win turned heads, the unnerving part of the playoffs came in the second round, in a decisive Game 3 overtime against Ryerson University.
As the final game crawled to the extra frame, with the score knotted at two, Peressini was at the backend of back-to-back games, fortunately for him, overtime did not last long. “They [Ryerson] hit the post behind me right away and were bringing it to us pretty good. Then they had a big turnover and we got the goal off that to win.”
After 67 minutes of hockey. The score read: Western 3, Ryerson 2.
Peressini and co. had taken down the top two teams and advanced to the OUA semifinal.
Despite a valiant effort, Western fell to the University of Guelph and fellow Frontenac teammate Ted Nichol in the semifinal. Although Western’s OUA championship hopes were dashed, a bounce-back victory against Concordia University in the third-place game booked them a spot at the U Sports National Championships, March 12-15 in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
The tournament was cancelled prematurely due to the onset of COVID-19 after Western had played their opening game. “It was a terrible way to go out, and the worst part was we flew out the next day at 6:00 AM, so we didn’t get time to reflect or anything.”
Although the year ended in disappointment, the playoff run made memories that will stick with Peressini for the rest of his life. “This past year was probably the most fun and I had never gone that far into the playoffs,” said the newly minted pro player. “I learned a lot with the Frontenacs when it came to defending elimination, even though we were usually out in the first or second round.”
From the Leon’s Centre crowd and his continued friendships from Kingston to a memorable senior season in U Sports, Luke Peressini’s life has changed a lot over the last decade, but he won’t forget any part of the journey that has brought him to the Reading Royals and professional hockey.