BREAKING THE ICE WITH CLOUSTON AND PERKS

By Jared Tennant

PHOTOS: Dee Hannum

This week's edition of Breaking the Ice features a pair of Michigan natives in forwards Vaughn Clouston and Tim Perks. Along with Ice Breakers winger Steven Fowler, the two have been friends since before their time in Mentor. Clouston, 23, hails from Rochester Hills, Michigan. He has played for several junior teams within multiple leagues over the years, including stints in the MidWJHL, NA3HL, NLHL, and NAHL. During the 2014-15 season, he scored nine goals and dished out four assists for a total of 13 points over 19 games with Indiana Tech (ACHA). After making his pro debut last year over a pair of games with the FHL's now-defunct North Shore Knights, Clouston made the Ice Breakers roster after trying out for the team in mid-October. Due to injury, he was unable to play until December 7. Over 26 games this season, Clouston has logged a 6-7-13 scoring line, including a pair of four-point games.

Perks has struggled to stay healthy this year, but he's been effective when he's been on the ice with three goals and four assists for seven points over 10 appearances. The 25-year-old has a 6-foot-2, 190-pound frame and is from Oxford, Michigan. After playing hockey at his local high school, Perks spent a season with the NA3HL's Metro Jets in 2012-13 before heading overseas, where he would play for both junior and professional clubs. Following time in the MJHL the next year, Perks began a four-year collegiate career at Northland College (NCAA Division III), where he posted an 8-16-24 scoring line over 55 games. Perks entered the North American professional ranks this season and came to Mentor following a pair of SPHL contests with the Quad City Storm.

Q: How did you know each other before the two of you joined the Ice Breakers? How did you both end up with the team this season?

Vaughn Clouston: Tim and I have been friends since I met him and Steven Fowler at a local pick-up skate when I was 16. Ever since then, we always dreamed of playing on the same pro team when we grew up, or maybe I should say when we were older because everybody knows hockey players never really "grow up."

Tim Perks: Steven Fowler and I met Vaughn at a summer skate through a mutual friend. We ended up skating and training together more and more as the years went on. I was released from Quad City in the SPHL and Vaughn reached out asking if I'd be interested in coming to Mentor.

Q: What's been the favorite stop of your hockey career so far?

VC: I have a lot of options to choose from, but it has to be my second year of juniors when my uncle Bob Clouston became my head coach. He has always been a massive part of my hockey career, from inspiring me to start playing when I was young to the guidance he has given me over the years. It was amazing to be able to play for my childhood hero.

TP: My favorite so far was attending the Indy Fuel's main camp in the ECHL this past October before coming to Mentor.

Q: Tim, how did your time playing at Northland College prepare you for life as a pro hockey player?

TP: I had to find a routine and balance between my studies, training, and other priorities during college and I believe that helped me the most. It really helped me become more independent.

Q: How do you like living and playing hockey in Mentor?

VC: Mentor is unbelievable. Between the fans and the ownership, I couldn't ask for more. Plus, the city is really cool, and the fact that we're so close to Cleveland is awesome.

TP: I absolutely enjoy playing in Mentor. I believe it's a good place for me and I'm very grateful for having this opportunity to help me develop.

Q: How would you describe yourself as a player?

VC: I like to pride myself on being a team-first, skilled, two-way player. I like playing both forward and defense and am always willing to stick up for a teammate.

TP: I would say I'm a dynamic two-way player. I try to prioritize a defensive and strategic game to make it harder for the opposition and create offense from defense.

Q: What's your game day routine like?

VC: Being a rookie, I'm still trying to find a good pregame "ritual," but the one thing to ensure a good game is a pregame smoothie.

TP: After working with a mental coach, I've found that I treat game day just like any other day. I don't have a set routine. As Bruce Lee said, "be like water." I find it best if you can go with the flow.

Q: Who's your favorite NHL player?

VC: Sidney Crosby

TP: Pavel Datsyuk.

Q: What are your hobbies?

VC: Big Xbox guy during the season, but in the summers I enjoy longboarding and beach volleyball.

TP: My current hobbies are boxing/MMA, reading and self-educating, and spending time outdoors when I can.

Q: Favorite food? 

VC: BBQ brisket mac and cheese.

TP: Fruit.

Q: Favorite movie? 

VC: Talladega Nights.

TP: The Town.

Q: What type of music do you listen to?

VC: Whatever the boys are playing in the room.

TP: Music really depends on my general mood. In general, I like conscious music. Lyrics that have meaning.

Q: What's a random fact about you?

VC: I was born in Arizona.

TP: I'm a perfectionist and have an intriguing mind, so I'm always finding new things to learn and work on.

Q: Favorite hockey memory?

VC: Scoring my first pro goal last season.

TP: Being able to play a professional hockey game after a year-long injury right out of high school and with no junior or college experience.