The St. F.X. X-Women head into the Christmas break atop the Atlantic University Sport (AUS) hockey standings.
The Blue and White has posted an 11-1-2 regular season mark.
“We have improved every game, every week,” head coach Ben Berthiaume said.
He added the team’s consistency has improved greatly, particularly in the past month.
“We have continued our consistent defensive play, which has been a key,” Berthiaume noted.
That has included a reduction in goals-against, which he said has been a team effort. The X-Women have surrendered a conference-low 22 goals.
“We also have to continue to use our speed up front,” Berthiaume said.
The X-Women trio of Daley Oddy, Sarah Bujold and Emerson Elliott are leading the forward charge.
“She has gotten off to a strong start,” Berthiaume said of Oddy, the team captain.
Bujold, the 2017 U Sports player of the year, has gotten off to what has been, very often, a dominating start.
“You know what you are going to get with Sarah,” Berthiaume said.
Elliott is a freshman who has “gotten off to a tremendous start.”
“She is getting better every day,” Berthiaume added.
Combining for 53 points, the line occupies three of the top four spots in U Sports’ scoring.
Elliott is first with 19 points – 10 goals and nine assists – while Oddy is second, also with 19, on eight goals and 11 assists.
Bujold is tied for fourth, with 15 points, on seven goals and eight assists.
Along with Elliott, the freshman contributors to the early-season success include second-line centre Kristen McKinley.
On the backend, the X-Women are led by sophomore Lindsey Donovan.
“She is one of the top defenders in the country,” Berthiaume noted.
Her partner on the blue line is fellow second-year player Santana Gravelle.
“She has been playing really well.”
The tandem, with 14 points apiece, are also top-10 scorers in the nation.
“It has been a key – and been strong – as a whole,” Berthiaume said of the defense corps.
The X-Women have rolled four lines and six defenders, consistently, during the first half of the regular season.
“Everyone is fresh and ready to go when they jump over the boards,” Berthiaume said, in talking about the benefit of the X-Women’s depth.
Between the pipes, Carley Molnar and Cassidy McEwan have also been keys to the strong defensive effort.
Berthiaume noted the team has been “tough to play against.”
“We have had a strong first half,” he said, adding there have been contributions “right down the roster.”
“We will be focussed on keeping that up and continuing to work hard.”
Four in a row
The X-Women wrapped up their pre-holiday schedule with a four-game winning streak, including a 4-1 home-ice victory over the Mount Allison Mounties, Nov. 26, at the Keating Centre.
On the opening shift, at the 37-second mark, Bujold re-directed a point shot, from Gravelle, behind goaltender Keri Martin.
Oddy notched the other assist.
Just 22 seconds into the second period, Bujold doubled the X-Women’s advantage, on assists from Oddy and Elliott.
In the middle frame, St. F.X. held a 20 to one shots-on-goal advantage.
In the third period, McKinley extended the lead, after roofing a wrist shot from the hash marks, with veteran defender Nicole Halladay garnering the lone assist.
Less than two minutes later, Brooke Noseworthy planted a backhander top shelf, with Gravelle and Emily Power notching the helpers, to make it 4-0.
Jessica Campbell put the Mounties on the scoreboard.
The X-Women finished with a 51 to 13 margin in shots-on-goal, with McEwan earning the win between the pipes.