The St. F.X. X-Women will drop the puck on the Atlantic University Sport (AUS) regular season this weekend.
In their home opener Friday, the Blue and White will host the Dalhousie Tigers at the Keating Centre.
Puck drop is set for 7 p.m.
Saturday night, the X-Women will hit the road for a match-up with the Université de Moncton Aigles Bleus.
“We got better every period, every game,” X-Women head coach Ben Berthiaume said about the team’s performance in the pre-season.
He noted the players also came in ready for their week-long camp.
Berthiaume said the seven newcomers – more and more – have adjusted to the physicality and speed of playing at this level.
“It is a grind, so you have to get used to it,” he noted.
In their final game, the offense broke out for five goals versus UPEI, after racking up shots throughout the pre-season.
“It was nice to see,” Berthiaume said of the scoring burst.
He noted “the skill level is there,” when it comes to putting the puck in the net.
The X-Women posted a 3-1 record in the pre-season.
“Consistency,” Berthiaume said, when asked about the keys to a successful season.
“It is about not taking a shift, a period, or a game off,” he added.
In order to have a chance to win, in a competitive conference, Berthiaume said “we have to prepare ourselves.”
The X-Women will boast great depth this season, including 15 forwards on the roster.
“We are very skilled, very fast,” Berthiaume said.
He added, this season, the Blue and White will have “an extra line that can put the puck in the net.”
Up front, the X-Women will be led by perennial All-Canadian Sarah Bujold, a fifth-year senior, who is coming off a summer playing experience with Canada’s national program.
Kristen McKinley and Lydia Schurman are returning forwards who have come back “ready to go,” according to Berthiaume.
Freshmen Tyra Meropoulis and Lea MacLeod will also infuse skill into the forward ranks.
“They are going to be big pieces for us,” Berthiaume said.
On the blue line, AUS all-star Lindsey Donovan is back for her junior season.
“She has a great ability to take control of the game,” Berthiaume said, noting her way of speeding up or slowing down the pace.
He added junior Santana Gravelle has come back “even stronger,” while Amy Graham is expected to have a strong season.
Antigonish native Josie Chisholm is amongst the recruits on defense.
“She is big and strong, with a great shot,” Berthiaume said.
Emma Thomas and Hannah MacDonald will also patrol the back-end, which graduated veterans from last season, such as Nicole Halladay and Nicole Corcoran.
Between the pipes, Carley Molnar is coming off a breakout season, one in which she cemented herself as a starter.
“She thinks she has something to prove, this year, as well,” he said.
He noted goaltender Cassidy McEwen will also get her opportunities.
“I think there is a buzz around this team – we are deeper, we are skilled and we are playing with our heads up,” Berthiaume said.
He predicted it is “going to be an interesting year.”