With seven weeks of play (and a gap week) in the books, RSEQ has reached the midway point of its 20-game season. The teams are currently on break and will resume conference games in the first weekend of January.
1. Montreal (9*): 11-6-1-2-2—16
2. Ottawa: 9-6-2-0-1—13
3. Concordia (6*): 9-6-3-0-0—12
4. McGill: 9-3-4-1-1—8
5. Carleton: 10-3-7-0-0—6
*National coaches' poll ranking
The Carabins: Montreal won the 2016 national title with a commanding 8-0 victory in the final and outscored its opponents 15-2 through the championship, bolstered by strong rookies on offence and backstopped by a goalie with two more years of eligibility. Then it failed to even make the tournament in 2017. The Carabins seem back on track this year, with just one regulation loss. They've got the league's top two goalies and two of its top four scorers, and are showing signs of the scoring depth that made them so dominant two years ago.
Juniors: Three of conference's top four scorers are in their third year of eligibility: McGill's Olivia Atkinson (5-6–11), Ottawa's Mélodie Bouchard (6-4–10), and Montreal's Alexandra Labelle (5-5–10). The other is fifth-year Carabins defender Maude Laramée (1-9–10), and after these four there are several players tied at eight points. All three are more or less on pace to repeat last year's records, where Atkinson and Bouchard finished second and third with over a point per game and Labelle was sixth — a mark she'll look to improve on after tying for third in her freshman season.
Progression: After some early surprises, the teams seem to have settled into the season and are beginning to line up as expected. Montreal and Concordia have been steady, Ottawa's riding a four-game win streak, and after dropping its first five games, McGill hasn't lost in regulation since. Carleton's lack of scoring depth is beginning to translate to the scoreboard, but all in all, the teams are finding their strides.
Carleton: The Ravens got off to a hot start but McGill finally found its scoring touch just as Carleton lost its own. The Ravens' top scorer has four points on the season, and the team as a whole has scored half as many goals as league-leading Montreal. Freshman Delaney Ross led the team with 18 points in as many games last year, but she's now playing professionally in Poland and the team hasn't been able to fill the gap. On the bright side, apart from a 5-1 loss to the Martlets, they haven't been on the wrong end of any blow-out scores — a sign that for the most part, they're keeping up.
Clarity: Anybody could make the national tournament this year, and half a season hasn't made things any clearer. Montreal's a front-runner, sure, but Concordia and Ottawa could probably both compete for a medal if they make it, McGill's been known to develop well throughout the season, and Carleton's not out of the running for an upset. There are two berths and they won't come easy.
Statistics: Like plenty of top hockey leagues and governing bodies, RSEQ uses HockeyTech's LeagueStat program. In general, the front-end interface is easy to work with, but this season there are glitches with various functions, including the display of statistics.
RSEQ doesn't host statistics on its website, instead providing a link to the LeagueStat page, so this means there's no clear list of leaders in any statistical category. Individual player stats are still accessible and most statistics are available through the U SPORTS website, but there are some inaccuracies with U SPORTS' historical stats and there's no way to only view RSEQ players, making it difficult to navigate. This isn't the conference's fault, of course, but it's been half a season and it's certainly not ideal.
Concordia and McGill will take the ice at the 50th annual Theresa Humes tournament from Dec. 29-31. Hosted by the Stingers, it's the second-longest-running women's hockey tournament in history, and only missed the mark by a season. Team China was initially expected to compete at the exhibition tournament but has since been replaced by Les Étoiles, an ad-hoc all-star team that usually features a bunch of Les Canadiennes players, CÉGEP players, and some retired CWHL vets.
League play resumes on January 5.