Kasilof’s Jonas Perletti, 11, is one of 15 hockey players from Alaska selected to play in the USA International Hockey Cup in Blaine, Minn., which will be held Thursday though Sunday.
“He was born in an orphanage in Calcutta, India, and now he’s going to an international hockey tournament,” said Joe Perletti, who is the father of Jonas. “He’s from a country where they don’t have hockey and here he is, a star.”
Jonas was adopted in 1997 and took up hockey in Portland, Ore., where the Perlettis used to live. Jonas, who will be in sixth grade at Soldotna Montessori Charter School, has played for the Kenai Peninsula Hockey Association since moving to the peninsula in 2001.
This year, Perletti was captain of KPHA’s Squirt B team. While Perletti had a great year for the squad, the odds were against him being selected for the Alaska Arctic Stars, which will travel to the International Hockey Cup.
“I didn’t think I’d get picked for anything at that high of a level,” Perletti said.
Mark Ellingrud, the coach of the Arctic Stars, said the International Hockey Cup is the first tournament for his team.
“We’re just trying to expose some of the more talented kids in Alaska to a chance to compete at a little higher level outside of the state,” Ellingrud said.
Ellingrud said teams from Alaska can find it hard to compete Outside because teams in the Lower 48 have so many more players from which to draw. By having a select team chosen from across the state, Ellingrud said he is hoping to level the playing field.
All of the other players on the Arctic Stars were taken from the Squirt A teams of the Alaska All Stars in Anchorage, the Anchorage North Stars and the Fairbanks Arctic Lions.
KPHA has no Squirt A team, but the Arctic Stars were so impressed with Perletti’s play at the Alaska State Hockey Association Squirt B playoffs that they decided to choose him.
“It’s kind of cool,” Perletti said. “I’ve never gone that far for hockey, and I’ve never been to Minnesota.”
Ellingrud said that if Perletti were living in Fairbanks, he would be a Squirt A player.
“The biggest thing really is that he’s a hard worker and plays both ends of the ice,” said Ellingrud of Perletti, who plays forward. “At the B tournament, he kind of dominated play when he was on the ice.”
The International Hockey Cup is a massive hockey event held over five weekends at the Schwan Super Rink in Blaine. Teams with players born in 1995 can play in the Open tourney or the Invitational tourney.
The Arctic Stars will face off against 11 teams for the Midwest and Ontario in the more difficult Invitational tournament.
“As far as the Midwest, it’s one of the stronger tournaments in the Midwest,” Ellingrud said.
Ellingrud said he thinks the ability of his team is probably somewhere between the Open and Invitational tournaments. He said if the team does well in Minnesota, he would like to bring the team to other tournaments.
Thus far, the Arctic Stars only have a 1995 team. Ellingrud said he would eventually like to expand the team to other age groups.
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