In a dream season that culminated with a fantastic 35 wins for the UBC Thunderbirds, culminating with a podium finish at Nationals, there was no shortage of heroines. Emerging as an essential figure, fifth year forward Ireland Perrott contributed five game-winning goals. Highlighted by the goal that clinched the bronze medal at Nationals, it provided the exclamation point to a season featuring a sweep of the regular season and conference titles in Canada West play.
Representing the second time in program history that the Thunderbirds earned the bronze medal, Perrott and her teammates aspired for the Golden Path Trophy won by Canada West rivals Mount Royal. Although there was an understandable tinge of sadness at not reaching the Finals, the high quality of play throughout this season encompassed a stellar body of work, of which all players can be proud of.
Undoubtedly, that sense of team spirit and respect for her teammates provided tremendous fulfillment for Perrott. With Les Carabins battling back from a 2-0 deficit, tying the score in the third period, as Justine Pelletier and Jessika Boulanger placed their names on the scoresheet, nearly ten minutes of scoreless play followed, as tensions mounted on both ends of the ice.
In a third period that saw goaltender Kate Stuart record nine saves, also nullifying three power play opportunities versus Les Carabins in the first two periods of play, the display of character made an impression. Perrott put away her own rebound at the 16:46 mark, rewarding Stuart for her assiduous efforts. With assists credited to blueliners Kennesha Miswaggon and Rylind Mackinnon, the 3-2 advantage stood as the final score, providing Perrott with a precious career highlight.
“Of course it was an incredible feeling to score that goal with it being my last game ever as a Thunderbird – it was emotional. Obviously, not the game we wanted to be playing in. We wanted to win our first National Championship so badly, but to show up and play a strong team like Montreal and still give it our best effort really speaks to the character of our group. We are relentless and always find a way.”
Raised in the Sturgeon County hamlet of Calahoo, Alberta, located northwest of Edmonton, Perrott, also a former of the provincial Under-18 roster, reached several career milestones this season. Reaching a total of 75 career points, the last point representing her greatest goal, she also enjoyed the plateau of her 150th appearance. Starting the season with a pair of goals in a 5-2 triumph versus the Calgary Dinos on September 30, 2022, it set the tone for an eventful season. When Perrott logged at least one point, the Thunderbirds boasted a sensational 13-1-0 mark.
Of note, there were two particular regular season games that held the most emotion for Perrott. With a January 28, 2023 home date versus the Grant McEwan Griffins representing Senior Night festivities, Perrott belonged to a celebrated group including Emma Hall, Hannah Kroll, Ashley McFadden and Kate Stuart. Defeating the Griffins by a 5-2 mark, Perrott contributed with a pair of assists on the game’s first pair of goals, scored by Mackenzie Kordic and Olivia Buckley. Adding to the sense of jubilation, the victory extended the Thunderbirds home record to a superlative 13-0, while enjoying their 20th overall win of the season, a very impressive accomplishment.
Before the regular season expired, the Thunderbirds established a new standard for excellence. Sweeping the Regina Cougars with back-to-back shutout wins on February 10 and 11, a new Canada West record resulted in 24 wins. With Elise Hugens needing only 15 saves, Perrott found the back of the net in the first and second periods.
Enjoying a special place in program history, Perrott recorded the game-winning goal in this historic triumph. Capitalizing on a power play opportunity at the 14:20 mark of the first, Joelle Fiala and Sophia Gaskell earned the assists. Recounting the magnitude of such a defining moment in the season, the revelation proved even more exhilarating than the stellar on-ice performance.
“It is funny as none of us were aware that it was a potential record game we were playing that night. The coaches kept it from us until the end. When we did find out it was a surreal feeling. There have been so many amazing, legendary teams in UBC history. Even with that (number) in Canada West history, so to be in history books with those teams, made me very proud of our group.”
In the aftermath of Nationals, Perrott enjoyed the opportunity for one more celebrated accolade. Along with Ashley McFadden, both shared in the honour of a team award, recognized with the Laura Bannion Award. Throughout such an exciting time, the greatest reward were the friendships made and inspiring people garbed in the Thunderbirds paraphernalia. Surrounded by such a group, it stood as the cornerstone of Perrott’s career, constantly providing a sense of jubilation. Encompassing the most enjoyable aspect of gracing the ice with a record breaking team, it represents the greatest victory.
“The culture. It is a special place to play. I have the best teammates. I am constantly laughing and we are always hanging out even after we spend 24/7 with each other, they are truly my family away from my family.”
“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated “