Son of former Bowling Green All-American commits to Augustana
Physical defenseman Ethan Perrault, a 19-year-old from Ohio, will play for Vikings next season
Ethan Perrault did not grow up in an area known for hockey.
Perrault grew up in of Tipp City, Ohio, a town of about 10,000 located about 20 minutes north of Dayton. There is no ice arena in the town and his family would have to drive him to Dayton for practices growing up.
So how did he end up playing hockey in the first place? Well, when your dad (Kelly) is a former All-American defenseman at Bowling Green, you end up getting onto the ice early in life.
"I was probably about 3 years old, as soon as I could fit into (skates), I was on the ice," Perrault said. "My dad really got me into it when I was younger. I kind of fell in love with the game and it was because of him.
"He was coaching me and my brother (Raymond) when we were growing up and made us the players we are now," Perrault said of his father, who played for Bowling Green from 1993-97.
Ethan (turns 20 on Jan. 26), Raymond (18) and Kelly are all defensemen. Ethan, who is playing his second season of junior hockey, recently verbally committed to play next season for Augustana University.
Perrault, who is listed at 6-foot-4 and 195 pounds, has 13 points, 39 penalty minutes and is even in plus/minus in 32 games this season for the Johnstown Tomahawks of the North American Hockey League.
Despite Perrault not picking his dad's alma mater for college, he said his parents are excited to see him commit to an NCAA Division I college.
"I feel relieved, almost," Perrault said. "Your parents put so much into your hockey career that you want to make them proud.
"They were excited. They think it will be a great place for me and are very excited, very happy."
In 96 junior games over two seasons, he has 26 assists, 31 points, 99 penalty minutes and is a plus-19.
"I'm a pretty defensive-minded player," Perrault said. "It's defense first. I pride myself on being a lock-down (defenseman), playing physical, winning puck battles and making strong plays out of the (defensive) zone.
"I'm working on my offensive abilities. It's been getting better and better this year. I'm starting to score some goals. I'm excited to see how the second half of this season is going to go."
Perrault is averaging 19 minutes, 28 seconds, is winning 58% of his puck battles and averages 1.44 hits-per-game for the Tomahawks.
"He's a really good two-way defenseman," said Mike Letizia, who is in his ninth season as Johnstown's head coach. "He's a bit of a throwback in that he loves to be physical. He's hard to play against. He can defend with his body and has good mobility.
"His puck skills and ability to add to the offense has really grown this year. He's a big, strong defenseman and plays the game hard and plays the game the right way ... He's been a really strong defenseman for us for two seasons. He's in great shape. He's a gym rat. He works his butt off on and off the ice and is a good leader."
Before getting to Johnstown, Perrault played one season for the Ohio Blue Jackets Under-18 AAA team after playing one season for the Tri-State Spartans Under-16 AAA team.
"My dad coached me up until I was 14 or 15," Perrault said. "Having your dad coach, there's always those ups and downs. There's definitely more expectation on you when you're on the ice because he's your dad.
"But it was good, though. He was a great coach, one of my best coaches. Thinking about it now, I just want to say, 'Thank you' to him for all the time all those years ... He's really the biggest part of my hockey career."
That being said, he wanted to chart his own path, which is one of the reasons he ended up picking Augustana.
"I see all my dad's pictures and I don't want to be in his shadow," he said. "I want to do my own thing."
Some time with Team USA
Letizia said that recruiting interest was beginning to grow in Perrault early in the season. But it really picked up after he played two exhibition games for the US National Team Development Program against Lake Superior State and Michigan Tech on Oct. 7-8.
"They had a couple defensemen go down (with injuries) and they knew that he could bring that big, strong, physical element," Letizia said. "That's when Ethan really realized what he could bring to the team is so important and he kind of took off from there.
"Everybody kind of took notice when he went in pretty cold to the Under-18 team against two pretty good programs and played very well. He was a plus, had an assist and he showed himself well."
Perrault has one more season of junior eligibility remaining, but said that the plan is for him to join the Vikings in the fall. He has taken a virtual tour of the campus, spoken with head coach Garrett Raboin during the recruiting process and has been watching the progress of the building of Midco Arena.
"There's a 20-to-1 teacher-to-student ratio and I'm going to get a great education," he said. "I wanted to go where I felt valued and where I will get good playing time and I think this is the right school.
"Everything I've heard about (Raboin) from other coaches is that he's an amazing guy and everything I've heard is really, really good. I think it will be great for my development over the next four years."