Sarah Bujold’s presence was felt nationally in a season with the St. Francis Xavier X-Women that could be best defined as brilliant. Recording 13 points in her sophomore season, the third year forward has assembled one of the greatest turnaround seasons in U Sports women’s ice hockey history. Ranking first in the Atlantic University Sport conference and in the nation in both goals (24) and points (43), she would also pace all scorers nationwide in empty net goals (3) and game-winning goals (6), truly establishing herself as the skater most valuable to her team.
Considering that Bujold, a Human Kinetics major, also ranked second in plus-minus ranking (+29), second in hat tricks (3), third in short-handed goals (2), fifth in shots (112) and sixth in assists (19), it would come as no surprise that by season’s end, Bujold had taken her place among the game’s elites. Adding the prestige of the Brodrick Trophy to such a masterful performance, she was part of a distinguished group of nominees which included Melodie Daoust, a 2014 Winter games gold medalist from McGill, Lauryn Keen, one of three Manitoba Bisons players to gain All-Canadian status, along with Windsor Lancers forwards Krystin Lawrence.
“Honestly, I felt so honoured and grateful to be chosen to accept this award. It was a really, really special feeling that I’ll never forget. I know there are so many talented women hockey players throughout U Sport on top of the nominees, that are just as deserving.
This award could have really gone to any of them. Not having as much success in my first year, preceding with getting better my second year, and then jumping to having such a great season this year seems unbelievable.
All the hard work put in and all the sacrifices made throughout the years has been worth it. When I found out I won this award I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face knowing it wasn’t just my award, that it was as much of an award to my teammates, coaches and program as it was to me.”
With a season that began with a four-game scoring streak (logging three goals and three assists), Bujold’s breakthrough performance would take place on October 29 in a road game against Mount Allison. Scoring four goals in a very convincing 7-1 road win, it would be the first six performances this season where she would log at least three points or more. Not surprisingly, the X-Women boasted an undefeated mark of 6-0-0.
In the second half of the season, Bujold would experience another pair of breathtaking performances against Mount Allison. Another road match on January 14 saw Bujold log a hat trick, including the game-winning goal, and an assist, as the X-Women vanquished their opponents by a 4-1 mark, bouncing back from a two-game losing streak for their ninth win of the regular season.
Bujold’s efforts in the game against Mount Allison would help set the tone for the X-Women, winning another four games in a row, to climb back into the race for first place in the Atlantic University Sport conference. Amassing 12 points (on the strength of seven goals), the X-Women would log a cumulative 19 goals during the five-game win streak, defeating the likes of Saint Mary’s, which saw Bujold score the game-winning tally, St. Thomas, Moncton and UPEI.
Closing out the regular season with a home match against Mount Allison on February 12, it allowed the X-Women faithful a chance to appreciate Bujold’s dominance of them. The fans would not be disappointed as Bujold provided her best performance of the season, recording three goals, three assists and a +5 rating in a 7-3 victory, their third straight.
After Bujold and Daley Oddy, a member of Canada’s entry at the 2017 Winter Universiade gained the assists on a power play goal by Kara Power at the 8:58 mark of the first period, Bujold would captivate the imagination of the fans in attendance. Scoring a natural hat trick over the course of two periods, the X-Women enjoyed a 4-0 advantage heading into the third period.
The offensive fireworks would continue as both teams scored three goals each in an explosive third period. Bujold and Oddy would assist on Power’s second goal of the game, scored at 9:50 in the third. Afterwards, Power would register her third assist of the game, combining with Bujold on a goal scored by Lisa Downey.
Surprisingly, there would be a pair of goals scored in the last 30 seconds of the game, including a short-handed goal by Oddy with just 10 seconds remaining. Of note, Bujold, Oddy and Power would combine for 16 points in the game, one of the most dominant performances in both St. FX and AUS history. Fittingly, this titanic trio would emerge as the selections for the game’s Three Stars.
As Bujold reflects on her evolutionary path towards scoring greatness, she is quick to acknowledge that the contributions of her linemates, Oddy and Power, are significant in attaining such unprecedented heights. Gracefully acknowledging their efforts, there was an unforgettable on-ice chemistry between this tremendous trio.
Oddy, the Notre Dame Hounds alum who hails from Cranbrook, BC logged a superlative 34 points. Power, whose hockey background includes one season with the Minnesota State-Mankato Mavericks at the NCAA level responded with an exceptional 35 point output, highlighted by an impressive plus/minus rating of +31.
With grace and sportsmanship, her kind recognition only serves to complement an incredibly astonishing determination. Having started her X-Women career with just six goals and seven points overall in the 2014-15 season, Bujold’s growth as a model teammate and scoring sensation are also attributed to a solid work ethic and an amazing self-discipline that have propelled her to such a well-deserved status.
“I definitely attribute my success not only to the hard work I’ve been putting in my entire life but to my teammates and everyone who has supported me along the way. My off-season training, drive and preparation has definitely influenced my success on the ice but overall, I couldn’t have captured that title without my teammates. My linemates Daley Oddy and Kara Power are amazing hockey players and have helped me every step of the way to achieve this goal. Not only my teammates, but my family and friends have supported me to work hard every day to excel on and off the ice.”
Adding to the jubilation of such a richly rewarding regular season involved the opportunity to compete on the biggest postseason stage in Canadian university hockey. Along with the Saint Mary’s Huskies, whom the X-Women faced in their conference finals, they were the pair of teams representing the AUS at the U Sports national women’s ice hockey championships.
Gracing the ice at Strathcona Paper Centre in Napanee, Ontario, site of the nationals provided a new group of fans the opportunity to appreciate Bujold’s on-ice wizardry. Although the two AUS clubs were unable to reach the podium, the occasion to be part of the national championship conversation allowed for a hallowed highlight, along with a strong source of motivation to reach for greater goals in 2018.
“Of course. We were beyond excited. Even though we did not attain the title of AUS champions, we still felt like we did. We had an unreal season and were ready to show the other conferences what St. FX was all about, as well as how developed the AUS has gotten over the past couple years.
It was a great experience and opportunity to be able to play at such a high level on the biggest stage in U Sport women’s hockey. It was truly a privilege to play against some of the best players in Canada.
Even though we did not come out with the win, we were still happy with how we played and the fact that we had the chance to play with each other a few extra games after playoffs ended. We are a family, they are my sisters and I would not have wanted to have that experience with any other group of girls!”
In years past, other great All-Canadians from St. FX have included the likes of Suzanne Fenerty, Brayden Ferguson and Alexa Normore. Having joined Ferguson in the status of Brodrick Trophy winners, she also treasured the opportunity to call an accomplished superstar such as Normore, a multiple AUS Player of the Year, a teammate, able to learn and benefit from her acumen for the game.
Building on their tremendous legacies, Bujold has established her own greatness, while adding another chapter to X-Women hockey lore. Proud to be in the same conversation as such other greats, Bujold is quick to point out that such a prominent rise on her part is attributed to the values of hard work and displaying a keen willingness to learn. Becoming a role model in her own right, Bujold sets a great example for future recruiting classes of X-Women competitors, providing them with an ideal competitor and inspiring person to emulate,
“It is beyond humbling to be recognized alongside these impressive athletes. My first year it was a dream of mine to improve to try and come close to the level of play such as the level of play of these St FX All-Canadians.
I have actually had the chance to play with Alexa Normore and I learned a lot; she sees the ice so well, all I could do was try to learn from her. To be recognized alongside these girls makes me feel so honoured and it definitely drives me to get better and to be able to continue to build on their legacies. To be nationally recognized is quite the feeling itself.
When you have played hockey your entire life, working hard on and off the ice every single day, making so many sacrifices in your personal life just to excel and get better, it is an unbelievable feeling when all that work put in throughout your life pays off.”
“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”
Photo credits: Ian McAlpine and Nick Pearce