Halifax, N.S.- After a series sweep over the No. 1 SMU Huskies, the St FX X-Women have booked a ticket to the U Sports national championship. The tournament will be in PEI this year and goes from March 12-15.
The St FX X-Women’s hockey team has always been a force in the Atlantic U Sports. This was their third appearance in the AUS finals and their first win since 2015. All season long they were in a tight race with the SMU Huskies for first place in the conference and both teams finished the season with 22-5-1 records. The only reason the Huskies finished first was that they got more points in the standings in their head-to-head matchups against the X.
The two teams met in the AUS finals and in game 2 in a best of three series, the X fought hard and claimed the title. That game showed the team’s resilience and mental toughness as well as how strong their goaltending is. This is a team that is a legitimate threat to win it all in the national championships.
This team is very well-rounded and is at the top of the Atlantic Conference in almost every category. In 28 regular-season games, they averaged 3.04 goals per game and in the playoffs, that number jumped to 4.0 goals per game. Tyra Meropoulis was named the AUS playoff MVP as she leads the entire league in points during the postseason (4G 4A) and she also lead the league in scoring in the regular season with 37 points (26G 11A). Meropoulis was the only player in the league to eclipse 20 goals this season and was on a tear all year long.
Goaltender Jamie Johnson is very good in net as well. In the regular season, she had a .943 save percentage and a dominant 13-2 record. When she is in net, the X win. Her ability to make big saves came in handy when the team was in game 3 of the AUS Finals. She steadily turned pucks away early in the game until the offence woke up and helped support her.
While the team doesn’t do very well on the power play, they excel at the penalty kill. Not only did they have a 92.9% success rate in the regular season, but they also lead the league with 7 short-handed goals. They are very good on the PK and often turn it into a scoring opportunity. Even in the game that clinched their U Sports nationals berth, they scored a goal short-handed.
This team has all the tools to adapt to any kind of game. They have the stars to play a track-meet, offensively charged game but they also have strong defensive players that can stifle any offence. Their captain, Lydia Schurman, won the AUS defensive player of the year and their goaltending is rock-solid. In the playoffs, it’s important to have an adaptable roster and this team is built to play anyone. The X are a very strong team and has won 16 straight games. This is a team that is very confident in themselves and that will be a key factor as well.
in the first game of the tournament, the X will take on the runner up from the Quebec division, the U de Montreal Carabins. All the games can be streamed live for free on CBC Sports website.
Cover Photo: Bryan Kennedy