A hockey player’s freshman season of NCAA competition is always an exhilarating experience, and for Mercyhurt’s Liliane Perreault it was exactly that. The first-year Laker now has a full season of College Hockey America (CHA) conference play under her belt, and she is already poised for her sophomore campaign to get underway.
“I would describe (my first year) as a learning experience,” she said. “I learned a lot this year on the ice, as well as in the classroom. My coaches and my teachers played a crucial role in helping me adjust to college. I really enjoyed my first year playing divisional college hockey, and am looking forward to the next season.”
Perreault – who goes by “Lily” for short – took some time out during her Memorial Day Weekend to speak one-on-one with THW. We recapped her first season at Mercyhurst, and discussed what steps she is taking in her preparation for year number-two.
Like Father, Like Daughter
We would like to briefly mention that if the surname of Perreault sounds familiar to hockey fans, it certainly should. Lily’s father Yanic played parts of 14 seasons in the NHL. The elder Perreault is widely considered one of the best faceoff men of all-time, and easily the most proficient one of his generation.
A veteran of nearly 900 games and a scorer of nearly 250 goals, Yanic Perreault has served as a sounding board for his daughter in her first season of college – as any loving father would.
“My dad would give me advice throughout the season,” the younger Perreault shared. “After my games I’d talk to him. He’d tell me to just keep working hard everyday, especially in practices. To pay attention to little details because it will pay off in the end.”
We need confidants in life whom we can bounce our thoughts and ideas off of. Parents usually serve the best in that regard, especially when they possess the experience to speak from. Hockey parents are a prime example of this.
A Natural Inclination Toward Defense
Liliane Perreault’s game is based around defense. She possesses and maintains the versatility to play any of the game’s skating positions, although her affinity is for center. Perreault, though born in Toronto, played her youth hockey in Chicago where she initially spent her time as a defender with both the Chicago Fury and Chicago Mission youth teams.
“Before attending Mercyhurst,” Perreault explained, “I did play defense in minor hockey but in my most recent years I have stuck to forward, which I prefer. I can play wing or center, but I really enjoy playing center because I like battling in the faceoff circle. Previously having played defense helps with my role as a center and in the D-zone.”
Perreault’s penchant for staying responsible in her own zone has transferred over to the collegiate level. Recognizing her defensive prowess and capability in the faceoff circle, the Mercyhurst Lakers inserted her into the lineup for all 34 of their games during the 2018-19 season. For a coaching staff to be able to rely that much on such a young player speaks to Perreault’s dependability. She has demonstrated that with her game she is never a liability on the ice.
“I would describe myself as a good two-way player who sees the ice pretty well,” Perreault said to THW. “Some of my strengths I would say are my speed and my vision, and I also take pride in playing good defense as well.”
Adjusting to the College Game
The Mercyhurst women’s hockey program is highly regarded and has been near the forefront of NCAA women’s hockey. Those familiar with the women’s professional game will recognize names such as Emily Janiga, Taylor Accursi, Amanda Makela, Shelby Bram, Juilia DiTondo and Katherine Donohue as all being Lakers’ alums. It is a very solid program to be a part of and represent.
As equipped as she was to begin her career at Mercyhurst, and as much faith as Lakers head coach Michael Sisti may have had to play her as often as he did, Perreault knew there would be an adjustment for her. Much of it came down to timing. With the pace of the game increased, she had to be sharper in all facets.
“The biggest adjustment for me I’d say was the speed of the game,” Perreault acknowledged. “College hockey is a lot faster, you have to make your decisions a lot quicker. I think that players are a lot stronger physically which is an adjustment as well. And also, details like blocking shots and winning faceoffs make a big difference in that kind of a game, at that level. The timing of everything.”
Perreault’s Sophomore Season Ahead
In her 34 games played, Perreault scored a goal and added five assists for six total points. The first NCAA tally of her career came on Nov. 4, 2018 in a 5-0 Mercyhurst victory over Lindenwood University – she knotted the team’s fourth goal of the game.
Some of Perreault’s other statistical notes from her first season that are interesting include:
- Just two minor penalties were assessed to her all season long. Perreault’s four penalty minutes were the least amount among all skaters on the squad to have played at least 10 games.
- Four blocked shots – one each in games against Cornell University, Bemidji State, Ohio State, and RIT.
All in all, Perreault completed a successful freshman season, and her better performances are yet to come.
At the time when she spoke to THW, Perreault and her Lakers teammates’ were just beginning their summers. Too often these days people have the tendency to rush through life and hurry things along. There is no sense in doing that, as ultimately it can rob us from appreciating the more important aspects of life. Perreault has three full seasons of NCAA hockey remaining and she is going to enjoy them to the fullest.
There is a major difference too between hurrying time along and properly preparing for the journey ahead. Though she has one season under her belt, Perreault is the complete opposite of idle – she is looking forward to the next steps to come, but she is also putting in the effort in the meantime.
“I think we have an exciting season ahead of us. We have a good group of players. One of our goals is working toward winning the division title,” she said. “Personally, coming into my second season I’ll know what to expect . I’ve been working really hard this summer to prepare for the coming season and I’m continuing to do that. As a player, I want to keep improving and contribute even more to my team’s success. I can’t wait until the season starts!”
General Manager of the Buffalo Beauts (NWHL). Hockey history writer “The Hockey Writers”. Credentialed media for the NHL Combine and 2018 IIHF World Junior Championships in Buffalo, NY, USA. Born and raised in Buffalo, NY. Lifelong hockey fan for over 40 years. Proponent of the women’s game.