Women's Hockey: AUS Update for Nov. 22

Another in our regular series, checking in with AUS women's hockey.

Mounties get on the board

It would figure that on the Mounties' busiest weekend of the year that they finally break their goose egg in the win column. Not only did the Mounties pick up wins against Dalhousie and UPEI but they went undefeated in regulation, dropping a Sunday evening shootout in Charlottetown to the Panthers. Earning five out of a possible six points, the Mounties climbed out of the basement and made ample room for the Tigers whose loss in Sackville Friday night was their only game of the weekend. With the AUS women's hockey schedule entering the second-to-last weekend of play in 2012, the Mounties will have just a single contest to worry about: facing a 4-5-1 Saint Mary's team that has lost three straight, the Mounties (2-5-3) will be able to draw even on points with the Huskies heading toward the stretch run.

Year of the Back-up

With all credit to each respective starting goaltender around the league, many teams are having the the enviable issue of having two good options in net. When X-Women goaltender Kristy Garrow isn't in net maintaining her 5-0-0 record, .949 save percentage and 0.80 GAA, she hands duty between the pipes to Katie Greenway who has impressive stats of her own (3-1 record, .925 SV% and a 1.41 GAA). One province over, the Tommies' backup Kristin Wolfe is doing her best to put some pressure on starter Julia Sharun. Sporting a 3-1 record, 1.20 GAA and .945 Save %, Wolfe's perfect season came to an end with Wednesday night's 3-2 loss in a shootout to the Panthers on the road. Even though both teams are already in a class of their own this season, having their backup goaltenders play well consistently gives both teams a trump card for the AUS and potentially CIS championships.

Statistical Domination

The AUS is home to absolute domination in the plus-minus category. In fact, it doesn't happen anywhere else in the country for women's hockey. Eight of the top ten plus/minus leaders in the conference, and all of the top seven, represent the blue and white out of Antigonish. In addition to that, the X-Women, who have allowed only six even-strength goals in 10 games, control the top five in plus/minus for forwards and top three in the same category on the blue line. St. Thomas teammates Danielle Miller (+9) and Amanda Burns (+8) are the only top-10 representatives from another team in the AUS.

If any team comes close to equalling that task, it's the defending CIS champion Calgary Dinos. The Dinos control the top four plus/minus spots in Canada West (and the country), and one of those four is someone with the last name Wickenheiser.

AUS Power Rankings, with a tweet to describe each team's play (our ranking as of Nov. 7 in parentheses):

  1. St. Francis Xavier (3) —An offensive juggernaut at one end of the ice and a brick wall in net. It's full steam ahead to the top of the AUS #goalieparadise #watchout

  2. St. Thomas  (1) — The X-Women game the Tommies only their first loss at home, and the Tommies still hold the second best home record in the AUS #theresnoplacelikehome

  3. UPEI (5) — Beating the Tommies should allow them to regain their form for 2013. Next? A trip to Halifax to face 2/3rds of the AUS basement. #mustwins

  4. Moncton (4) — Moncton is the second-least penalized team in the AUS (behind Mt. A). Doesn't hurt that they possess a 94% penalty kill. #sinbinredemption

  5. Mount Allison (7) — The first two wins of the season are always the best. To get them at home is even better. Mt. A is still fighting an uphill battle #justwin

  6. Saint Mary's (2) and 7. Dalhousie (6) — Both Halifax teams sit in the bottom three of the AUS with no rest in sight. #Dalhousielosesfourinarow #SMUlosesthreeinarow
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