By Joshua Boyd / USPHLPremier.com
A Rochester, N.Y., native, Lenny Perno first began his time in the United States Premier Hockey League five years ago. Originally a member of the former Rochester Monarchs’ 16U team, Perno started early in paving his Path To College Hockey.
This path eventually swung south to Richmond, where he was a key part of the USPHL Premier Generals’ success this year. Now, he’s boomeranging back to upstate New York to join the SUNY-Potsdam Bears this fall.
Perno is one of three members of the Generals who made recent commitments to Potsdam, as he’ll join Jakub Hall and Jack McCandless as a Bear next year. Perno took a moment to talk about his nearly five full years in the USPHL and how they helped make him the college-bound goaltender he is today.
“I think the USPHL is a solid league for attracting college attention. In particular, the Southeast Division. I think the parity in the division where any team can win any night attracts colleges because of how hard the competition is, which in return raises the level of play,” said Perno. “You get to play against other NCAA commits which helps give you a feel for the next level.”
“I first got in contact with Coach [Chris] Bernard and SUNY-Potsdam towards towards the end of February and communication stayed until I committed around mid-to early-March. From talking with the Coach, he liked the athletic style I played with along with how he thought my skill would translate to the NCAA D3 level,” said Perno.
Potsdam competes in the State University of New York Athletic Conference (SUNYAC), which is basically as competitive as the Southeast Division gets on any given weekend.
“What interested me first about Potsdam is the conference they play in. Growing up in upstate New York, I grew up watching the SUNY teams play and always made it a goal of mine to play in the conference that I grew up watching. Also, the hockey opportunity interested me because of their needs in net, and my belief that I could fill them. On the academic side, I really enjoyed the campus and the team living. Also they had certain subjects that I am interested in studying in which made it an easy decision.”
He is looking into sports management as a minor, and business or communications for a major, but is undecided. When Perno visited the campus, he was able to meet some members of the Bears team “and I really enjoyed it.”
“They are a school that really cares about their sports and especially the hockey program so that, along with being in SUNYAC, is what made me make it official,” Perno added.
In 23 games this year, Perno completed a 13-7-1-1 season with a 2.38 goals against average, a .929 save percentage and three shutouts. In 52 career postseason games, Perno has a 2.95 goals against average and a .921 save percentage.
“I played two seasons for Richmond, one in 2020-21 and the other in 2022-23. My experience in Richmond has been unreal. From the coaching staff, R.C. Lyke, Brian Leonard, Brian Goudie, and Tom Hasenzahl, they always have your best interests in mind. R.C. does a great job of recruiting players and then moving them along to the NCAA D3 level. They run a hard but fair program and hard work and culture are at the forefront.
“I’m extremely grateful that R.C. and the coaches gave me a shot two years ago and I have made some lifelong friends in Richmond and couldn’t be happier with the organization from the fans to the staff,” Perno added.
Hasenzahl has been a goalie coach for teams at various levels including USHL and pro teams since the 1970s, and Perno gives him a lot of credit for pushing him over the edge into being an NCAA-committed player.
“I think our goalie coach ‘Haz’ is a huge part in why our team had success in net this season. He’s a great coach and an even better guy and is someone you can always talk to when you need some help. Haz was able to run goalie skates with us and work on things we struggled in, which helped clean up our games throughout the year,” added Perno. “Being in Richmond helped me develop a better mental approach to the game through the way they approached the goalie position which in the long run has made me a better goalie.
“This summer, I’m going to put a big emphasis on improving my puck-handling skills along with my hand position and cleaning up my stance,” he said. “Besides that, it’s just going to be a summer of skating and training to come into my first college season ready to go.”
The USPHL congratulates Lenny Perno, his family, the Richmond Generals and SUNY-Potsdam for his commitment.