March 30, 2011

AHL Journal: History-making weekend for Pereira

by Dan Hickling

Bridgeport's Joe Pereira (photo: Dan Hickling)

Joe Pereira was just 72 hours into his professional career, but already he had set some sort of record.

At least we think he did. There is no really way of confirming it for sure.

However, last Friday, when the West Haven, Conn., native skated into the Civic Center in Portland with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, he became the first man in AHL history to play his first two pro games for two different teams and do so in the same building -- as a visitor, no less.

You could try to look it up, if you knew just where to go.

But even Google won't help you with this one.

The strange sequence of events began last Tuesday, when the former Boston University captain signed an amateur tryout contract (ATO) with the Worcester Sharks, who were riddled by call-ups and injuries.

“We needed some players,” said Tim Burke, the director of scouting for Worcester's parent team, the San Jose Sharks. “We’re always looking like everybody else. He's a kid who had a pretty good year and we wanted to give him a look.”

Without the benefit of a practice, Pereira, who had been off skates for 10 days after BU's ouster in the Hockey East quarterfinals, joined the Sharks in Portland and performed credibly in Worcester's 5-4, come-from-behind overtime victory.

Like many ATO's, Pereira found the measured pace of the pro game to be an eye-opener.

“It was a more controlled game,” he said, “instead of in college, where it's 'boom, boom' and you're going after everything. I think that had a lot to do with the difference.”

But while the Sharks' sticks were stowed in one big bag in the baggage hold of the team bus, Pereira's were set aside.

His time as a Shark was one and done. Pereira was handed his release.

“I think it was a good experience,” said Pereira, his red and white BU duffel bag standing out among the black and teal. “I wanted to give it a shot and see what happens. Hopefully I can impress someone now and lock something up for next year.”
Thankfully, he wasn't out of work for long.

In the throes of some roster turmoil of their own, the Sound Tigers picked up Pereira for last weekend's busy slate of games. You can guess where the first one was.

Portland.

There, too, Pereira stepped right in and helped the last-place Tigers reach up and bite the Atlantic Division leaders, 5-1.

The good news for Pereira is that he is still employed, and has played three games for Bridgeport while racking up his first professional assist.

Around the AHL

The ATOs continue to pour into the AHL, which is to be expected now that all but four college teams are out of business for the year. Likewise for many major junior squads. … One day after New Hampshire was eliminated from the NCAA tournament, top line left wing Paul Thompson (Derry, N.H.) inked a free-agent deal with the Penguins and is now in Wilkes-Barre. Hobey Baker hopeful Cam Atkinson (Boston College) is now with Springfield, as is former UMass goalie Paul Dainton. … Balloting for the AHL's yearly awards has been completed, with the winners slated to be announced one at a time, each day throughout the rest of the week. The consensus is that players with New England ties will be heavily represented among the honorees.

Dan Hickling can be reached at feedback@hockeyjournal.com.