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Bujold’s big start

Sarah Bujold has brought her scoring prowess from the SDHL to the PHF

@mdphotoandink | PHF
@mdphotoandink | PHF

Metropolitan Riveters newcomer Sarah Bujold has wasted no time in making an impact. The Canadian forward was just named the PHF’s first star of the week following a marquee five-point weekend, which included two unassisted shorthanded goals and two goals on the power play. Bujold already looks like a sneaky star signing and her big start is just one more reason PHF front offices need to pay close attention to European leagues to bolster their rosters.

When Bujold signed with the Riveters, I had her tabbed as a top-six forward who could provide some of the scoring depth this team has been missing for a few seasons. She was a USports star at St. Francis Xavier University — finishing her collegiate career with an average of 0.93 Pts/GP — and spent the previous three seasons honing her skills in Sweden’s SDHL. I didn’t expect her to look this good this fast in the PHF, but that might be because I didn’t do my homework.

We’ve seen players who have established themselves in European leagues find immediate success in the PHF before — Connecticut’s Kennedy Marchment and Allie Munroe followed a similar path. That’s why the “rookie” label just doesn’t seem to fit a 26-year-old like Bujold who joined the Rivs on a one-year deal after playing 97 regular season games and battling in three playoff campaigns in Sweden. Bujold is not a rookie. She’s a player in her prime finding fast success in a new league.

A closer look at some SDHL data on Dave MacPherson’s Pick224.com reveals that Bujold took her game to another level last season with HV71 after playing two seasons with Djurgården. She had 34 points in 29 games, 31 of which were primary points scored at even strength. Bujold was also second on the team to Team Sweden’s Hanna Olsson with 0.72 EV P1/GP. When we include the context of her +13.22 Rel EV GF%, it’s abundantly clear that good things happened for HV71 when Bujold was on the ice for evens.

Now in the PHF, it’s special teams where Bujold has made an immediate impact with her forechecking and ability to finish on quality scoring chances. She lined up more at center in the preseason than she has in three exhibition games, but given her ability to make reads on and off the puck it appears that head coach Venla Hovi and Associate Coach Ivo Mocek can trust her in a variety of roles.

Will she be able to maintain a 25% shooting percentage for the rest of the season? Of course not, but the reason that number is sky-high is because Bujold is pouncing on the opportunities she’s had. It’s not a coincidence that she’s had so many high-quality scoring chances at evens, while shorthanded, and on the power play. Bujold is rapidly gaining a reputation as a player you can’t afford to make mistakes around, as evidenced by scoring shorties in back-to-back games. That shooting percentage is going to drop but given Bujold’s 5.33 SOG/GP — 5.60 SOG/GP including two preseason games — and this five primary point weekend against the Toronto Six, Riveters fans should be buzzing.

Bujold has that knack to create a real scoring chance where others would have to settle for low-percentage play. It’s still early, but what has stood out most thus far is her confidence on the attack. She’s strong on the puck and has a quick release that has been able to beat top shelf goalies like Elaine Chuli and Carly Jackson on breakaways. Like Rivs’ core center Kendall Cornine, Bujold is a finisher. This team needs finishers.

For Bujold, the even strength production will come and so will more points on the power play. There’s so much more potential in the 2022-23 Riveters than the 2021-22 edition and additions like Bujold are why there’s real optimism among both fans and content creators. It’s hard to project what kind of numbers Bujold will have at the end of the year but it’s safe to say that she’s one of the reasons why the Riveters are a better team than they were last year. And she and the Rivs are just getting started.