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Skidmore College

Stephen Perez is all the way back …

by Peter MacDonald

Skidmore ice hockey defenseman favorite read is John Strelecky’s “The Big Five for Life,” a bestselling personal development and leadership book. His favorite movie is “Step Brothers,” an iconic comedy about a childish sibling rivalry starring Will Ferrell. 
 
These personal anecdotes offer a flavor of who the junior business major is both on and off the ice – highly focused and hardworking, yet engaging and light-hearted. 
 
Stephen, who calls Bloomfield, New Jersey, home, had to rely on all of these attributes – and more – to push past the hardships and challenges of being injured his first two hockey seasons at Skidmore, playing in just four games his first year and five as a sophomore.  
 
During the 2023-24 season, he was finally able to remain healthy and play a full season, one of the best in program history. The finished 19-7-2 overall and 12-5-1 in the New England Hockey Conference (NEHC), making it to the championship game and just missing out on at at-large bid to the NCAA Division III tournament. The team is currently ranked #10 in the nation (Pairwise) and #11 in the US Collegiate Hockey (USCHO) voter poll.  
 
Says Stephen, “After all I went through fighting back from injuries, this season made it all that much sweeter. I’m super happy. I made sure to be purposeful on the ice whenever I had the chance, to work twice as hard, and to never get complacent.”&Բ;
 
That mindset didn’t only help Stephen persevere; it was also a huge boost for the team. “Stephen makes it easy for me and the rest of the team due to his predictability and communication skills,” says defensive line mate ‘26. “He’s extremely positive. If someone has a tough shift, he’s supportive and cheerful and encourages the player to forget about it and continue to play their best.”&Բ;
 

In summer 2023, the Skidmore men’s hockey team traveled to France to play friendlies against pro teams and to gain a cultural experience. On the trip, which included beautiful views of the French Alps, Stephen (top, sixth from left) bonded with his defensive line mate, Sam Saccone ‘26 (next to him in sunglasses). “Sam and I have a great partnership. We understand each other, how we’re going to play, where we are going to be.”&Բ;

In summer 2023, the Skidmore men’s hockey team traveled to France to play friendlies against pro teams and to gain a cultural experience. On the trip, which included beautiful views of the French Alps, Stephen (top, sixth from left) bonded with his defensive line mate, Sam Saccone ‘26 (next to him in sunglasses). “Sam and I have a great partnership. We understand each other, how we’re going to play, where we are going to be.”&Բ;

And Stephen was at his best during the past season, third on the team with a plus-minus rating of +12, third in assists with 15, and third in blocks with 19.  
 
The first game against Babson in early December, a , is particularly memorable. “No doubt it was the best game in my career,” says Stephen, who notched two assists. “We were down a goal going into third period and we told ourselves, ‘We can beat these guys.’ “And we did, scoring four unanswered goals. It was a great period of hockey.”&Բ;
 
“Stephen has been a stalwart on our backend. He’s a talented and versatile player — big, mobile, and athletic — with a tremendous set of tools and a great work ethic,” says Head Coach . "His game continues to develop as he gains confidence within our systems and his abilities.”  
 
Coach Hutchison and Stephen both played high school hockey at Trinity Pawling School, which is also where the 2007 Skidmore graduate, a two-time MVP and Hall of Famer for the Thoroughbreds, got his first head coaching position. Hutch took over for his college alma mater in 2015.  
 
Skidmore was the perfect place for Stephen since he was looking for “super-competitive hockey, great academics, and a strong alumni network.”&Բ;
 
Recruited by Hutchison, who stayed in contact with him from 2018 on, Stephen, like most other players in the NEHC, played several years of junior hockey, improving his game and maturing. He played for the P.A.L. Junior Islanders (Hauppauge, New York), Maine Nordiques (Lewiston, Maine), and Odessa Jackalopes (Odessa, Texas). 
 
Since his arrival at Skidmore, Stephen has been busy gaining experience and preparing for a career in finance. His first summer, he interned at real estate services firm, Cushman & Wakefield, working on tenant representation and real estate portfolio strategy, among other things. This summer he will live in the Big Apple and intern at the financial services firm Raymond James as an investment banking analyst.  
 

Stephen Perez, second from right, poses for a group shot with his Skidmore-Saratoga Consulting Partnership team in front of iRun, the Saratoga business for which they did pro bono consulting work.

Stephen Perez, second from right, poses for a group shot with his Skidmore-Saratoga Consulting Partnership team in front of iRun, the Saratoga business for which they did pro bono consulting work.

Stephen credits Skidmore’s management and business program with helping him land the Raymond James position, in particular his work with the College’s Skidmore-Saratoga Consulting Partnership (SSCP). SSCP is an advanced seminar and practicum on strategic consulting that affords highly accomplished Skidmore students an invaluable, for-credit opportunity to gain hands-on consulting experience. 
 
Last fall, he was a member of a student group that consulted for iRun, a high-end Saratoga running store. This spring, he is taking the course a second time in his role as a senior consultant. Says Stephen, “I feel much more confident in client meetings and using my communication skills, which will be valuable once I begin my internship at Raymond James.”&Բ;
 
As for life in the rink, there is a “ton to be excited about this coming year. We have 13 seniors and 23 guys returning overall. Our goal is to make it back to the league championship and beyond. I am excited to leave no stone unturned.”&Բ;
 

Stephen comes from a tight-knit family. From left to right: Danny, who played pro hockey and is now Colorado-based skills coach and podcaster; his mother and father, who both work in the mortgage banking industry; and Stephen.

Stephen comes from a tight-knit family. From left to right: Danny, who played pro hockey and is now Colorado-based skills coach and podcaster; his mother and father, who both work in the mortgage banking industry; and Stephen.

More about Stephen 
 
Family: “My dad is originally from the Azores Islands (Portugal) and is a mortgage banker. My mom is originally from Cuba and works alongside my dad. My brother played college hockey at the University of Maine and then played professional hockey for a year. He is now a hockey skills development coach in Denver, Colorado. We're a very tight family and it can be controlled chaos when we're all together!” 
 
Favorite book: “” by John Strelecky, a gift from his parents. “My biggest takeaway from the book is that you have the power to determine your own interpretation of a successful life. I have realized it is so important to approach every day being open-minded with joy and purpose.”&Բ;
 
Favorite movie: Step Brothers. “My favorite scene is .”&Բ;
 
Favorite food: ٱ𲹰 &Բ;
 
Favorite Athlete: Sidney Crosby. “I’ve always admired his skating, playmaking ability, and competitiveness.”&Բ;
 
Advice on finding the right place to play college hockey: “Go where you see yourself the happiest and have the most resources accessible.”&Բ;
 
Something that might surprise people about you: “I learned how to farm in high school, and I enjoy playing pickleball.”&Բ;