Future Watch: Jeff Petry
Recent call-up Jeff Petry cites confidence as his greatest improvement
|Jeff Petry in Oklahoma City prior to his December 27th call-up. (Photo by Steven Christy / Oklahoma City Barons)
The main reason for his improvement? That’s easy, too.
“He’s playing with more confidence,” said Barons coach Todd Nelson. “He has the skill set. We all knew that he has the skill set. You can see the way he skates. He just explodes. He’s got a great shot. He moves the puck like a pro. And he’s just playing with more confidence.”
Petry seconded that notion.
“Yeah, for sure,” said the former Michigan State star, in his first full American Hockey League season. “I mean, I played a little bit in Springfield last year, but then we had the whole summer off. This has just been a learning process and just getting more comfortable.”
Petry made his pro debut last year. Playing in eight games for Springfield, Mass., he had three assists and a plus-minus rating of minus-10. He entered this season as the Edmonton Oilers’ third-best prospect, according to The Hockey News ratings.
“He’s playing with more poise now,” Nelson said.
Petry, the son of former major league pitcher Dan Petry, got off to a slow start. He had two goals, nine points and a minus-12 rating after 16 games. But look at his numbers since:
Five goals, 12 points and plus-7 in his next 16 games.
His game improved enough that he earned a call up to the Oilers December 27.
In 32 games with the Barons this season, Petry has seven goals and 21 points. At the time of his call up, he was sixth among AHL rookies in points and third in goals by defensemen.
“I’m just getting into the game and feeling more comfortable,” Petry said. “I’ve been watching video and getting a visual of what I was doing at the beginning of the year as opposed to now. It’s helped a great deal, along with being with the coaches and hearing what they have to say and applying it to my game.”
Petry has also been a vital part of the Barons’ penalty-kill unit, which has been near the top of the league for most of the season.
“He’s very strong down low,” Nelson said of the 6-3, 200-pounder from Farmington, Mich. “He’s playing more assertive. That’s the biggest thing. He’s playing more assertively. He does things so well that he makes things look easy and it looks like he’s nonchalant.”
Petry nonchalanted the Manitoba Moose to sleep December 10. He took the puck behind the Barons’ net, skated the length of the ice and behind the enemy net, then fired in a wraparound goal past the goaltenders’ right side.
It was the Barons’ most spectacular goal of the year.
“They were going through a line change and I looked up and had some ice and our forwards stretched out to make them react to that,” Petry said. “That spread out the ice. I looked for somebody in front of the net but didn’t think I could get the puck through, so I circled around and just threw one on net and snuck one by the goalie.”
It was Petry’s first end-to-end goal as a professional. The only other such goal he remembers came for Michigan State, against one of the Spartans’ biggest rivals, Notre Dame.
“He’s coming along nicely,” Nelson said of Petry. “He’s going to be a special player in the future.”
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