During an exciting off-season for Les Canadiennes de Montreal, the club has strengthened its roster with the likes of Katia Clement-Heydra, Karrel Emard, Marie-Philip Poulin and Alyssa Sherrard in the 2015 Canadian Women’s Hockey League (CWHL) draft. One transaction that may have flown under the radar may prove to be a key move for Montreal.
The acquisition of forward Jordanna Peroff provides Les Canadiennes with a solid player who brings a fundamentally sound game and a team-first approach. Although she was raised in the Greater Toronto Area, capturing a Clarkson Cup championship in 2014 with the Toronto Furies, Peroff is no stranger to Montreal hockey fans.
From 2007 to 2012, Peroff was a member of Montreal’s McGill University hockey team. Known affectionately as the Martlets, the program quickly rose to national prominence. Led by head coach Peter Smith, the club would feature a group of star players including the likes of Ann-Sophie Bettez, Cathy Chartrand, Charline Labonte and Catherine Ward, ushering in an unprecedented era of dominance, reputed for its remarkable undefeated streak and conference dominance.
At a time when women’s hockey began to experience more exposure, attributed to Vancouver serving as the host city for the 2010 Vancouver Winter Games, Martlets hockey represented some of the best that women’s hockey in Canada had to offer. During this magical time, Peroff was a solid contributor, accumulating over 100 points. The highlight of her Martlets career would result in earning Tournament MVP honors at the 2011 Canadian Interuniversity Sport national championships, which also saw McGill emerge with the title.
Upon her return to Montreal this autumn, Peroff would also get the opportunity to grace the ice at McGill’s McConnell Arena once again. An October 3rd exhibition match against her former Martlets saw Peroff and her new teammates on Les Canadiennes prevail by a 7-0 tally. Considering that McConnell was her home arena for five seasons, returning as the opposition represented a unique moment in Peroff’s first season with the club.
“It actually felt really weird. When I went to take the face-off, I went on the wrong side. Some players on the team (Les Canadiennes) just finished playing for McGill last season. I think it may have been weirder for them. It was also weird playing against my former McGill coaches.”
Last season, Peroff was not among the group of highly talented women that compete in CWHL hockey. After two seasons with the Toronto Furies, which also saw Peroff compete in the first CWHL regular season game in an NHL arena (Toronto’s Air Canada Centre), her career took a new direction.
Opting to bring her game to Europe, Peroff engaged in a trend that has grown over the last half decade. While that same time has seen many European women compete in NCAA women’s hockey, the chance for Canadian and American women to bring their skills to Europe represents a pleasant change of pace.
Competing in the European Women’s Hockey League, which consists of teams from Austria, Finland, Germany, Russia, Switzerland and Sweden, among others, Peroff emerged as one of the leading scorers for Italy’s Bolzano Eagles. During the 2014-15 EWHL season, the Eagles would have the opportunity to compete against the famed Espoo Blues in the postseason.
“Playing in Italy was awesome. I got to travel and see different places in Europe. The team had supported me financially, so it was a great opportunity to not only tour Europe, but to play the sport that I love to play. We are working towards that here, but not yet. It would be nice if we can one day do it here.”
Returning to the CWHL with a renewed focus, the city of Montreal may present Peroff with the next milestone in her career. Taking into account that Montreal is hungry for its first Clarkson Cup championship since 2012, Peroff’s glorious experiences with the Martlets may prove to be a key piece to the championship puzzle.
Throughout the years, the ability of McGill players to move on and become star players at the CWHL level is one of the program’s greatest legacies, one that Peroff has proudly contributed to. Others have included the likes of Alyssa Cecere, Vinny Davidson, Kim St. Pierre and Catherine Ward.
Heading into this season, Peroff is not the only former McGill star to occupy a place on the roster of Les Canadiennes. This season sees the likes of players, all former teammates of Peroff at McGill, such as team captain Cathy Chartrand, former Brodrick Trophy winners Ann-Sophie Bettez and Katia Clement-Heydra, along with veteran blueliner Carly Hill, All-World goaltender Charline Labotne, plus RSEQ All-Stars Leslie Oles and Chelsey Saunders.
While Oles and Peroff are the only McGill alumnae on this year’s roster to have won both the CIS national title and the Clarkson Cup, there is no question that they are determined to help their fellow Martlets experience that special milestone. For Peroff, the chance to be reunited with such familiar faces may represent her greatest CWHL season yet,
“It is fun to play with them again, really awesome. Last night, I played on a line with Leslie Oles. We have known each other on and off (the ice) and it was really fun and exciting. She is so fast and playing with her again brought back some good memories.”
“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”