Rich Peverley’s seven-year ascent to hockey’s pinnacle started in 2004 when he graduated from St. Lawrence University having led its men’s hockey team in scoring for three consecutive seasons.
It took nearly three years for Peverley to reach the National Hockey League, making his debut with the Nashville Predators in 2007.
By the start of the 2010-11 season, he was with the Atlanta Thrashers, which traded him to Boston in February.
And on June 15, Peverley hoisted the Stanley Cup having recorded two goals and two assists in Boston’s seven-game series win over Vancouver.
He is the first St. Lawrence alum to win an NHL title as a player. Peverley does not plan to bring the Stanley Cup to SLU. Instead, he will bring it to his hometown of Guelph, Ontario.
“I was overcome with a tremendous amount of happiness,” Peverley said in a phone interview. “There are times when you just wanted to make the league and there are times when you want to be a good player in the league. Once you’re on a good team that has a chance to win every year, you really appreciate that. It was a surreal experience.”
Peverley was integral to Boston’s late-season and playoff run. He skated on various lines and on the power play and penalty kill.
In the finals, a concussion to Nathan Horton in the third game put more pressure on Peverley to perform. He responded with two goals in Boston’s 4-0 win in Game 4 to even the series at 2-2.
St. Lawrence coach Joe Marsh, whose favorite childhood team was the Bruins, intently watched the series and Peverley.
“Certainly a kid like Peverley playing has rekindled it for me,” Marsh said. “I thought he did real good things for them. He was very consistent and very reliable. I thought he really stood out.”
Just as he did with the Saints. In his first season in 2001, Peverley won the ECAC Championship at Lake Placid. By the end of his four-year career, he amassed 117 points before entering professional hockey with the lessons learned from Marsh.
“You go through life and you mature as a player, but you also mature as a person,” Peverley said. “(Marsh) is very good at teaching life lessons as well as lessons on the ice.”
Peverley used both in his rise to the NHL. He spent a season in the ECHL with the South Carolina Stingrays, then 11 games with Reading before getting the call to the AHL’s Milwaukee Admirals in 2005, where he spent nearly two full seasons.
“When I was in the East Coast league, I thought it was a bit of a pipe dream to actually make the (NHL),” Peverley said. “Once I was give the opportunity to play at the American League, I knew I had a chance.”
Nashville called in 2007, but Peverley saw limited ice time and bounced between the NHL and AHL until the 2008-09 season when he played in 27 NHL games before being traded to Atlanta, where he finished the season.
In 2009-10, he appeared in all 82 games for the Thrashers in the best season of his career, recording 22 goals and 33 assists.
He repeated the feat last season, playing in 82 games between Atlanta and Boston.
“He’s a real good argument for staying in college four years,” Marsh said. “He’s paid his dues. It’s a real testimony to a kid that’s stuck it out.”
Peverley has one more year on his contract and will become a free agent after the 2011-12 season with Boston.
Here is the 10-minute interview with Rich Peverley: