The provincial senior women’s hockey championships are coming to Brandon in March, and the host Assiniboine Community College Cougars are hoping to medal.
The Cougars announced Wednesday that they will host the provincial championships at the Kinsmen and Optimist arenas from March 14-16. The ACC squad hasn’t fared very well the last few years it has gone to provincials, but Cougars head coach Terry Arksey hopes hosting the event in the Wheat City will change the team’s luck.
"We look forward to being a good host and putting on a good tournament," he said. "It’s always been held in Winnipeg, so it’s nice to get it outside the city of Winnipeg and host it in rural Manitoba. … It gives us a better opportunity to do well."
The Senior A event will feature three teams, while ACC will compete in the six-team Senior B competition, which Arksey hopes will suit his team’s style of game more than what they’ve been playing for most of the season.
The Cougars have played 10 exhibition games against Manitoba Women’s Junior Hockey League teams this season, posting a 4-5-1 record. Those teams play a faster game than what the Cougars do, which is why Arksey believes his team will be better matched up against opponents at the senior provincials.
Some of those opponents will come from the Westman area as the Brandon Bandits and Minnedosa Wild will be in the Senior B field, along with a trio of Winnipeg teams in the Aces, Devils and Rage.
Arksey believes bringing the provincial championship to Brandon helped encouraged rural teams to enter the event and hopes they can show that there are good senior women’s teams outside of Winnipeg.
"That’s one of the reasons why we wanted to host it in Western Manitoba here; there are some good hockey teams out here that never get the chance to play in provincials because of the cost of going to Winnipeg," he said. "It was nice to see these other two teams jump on board — the Brandon Bandits and the Minnedosa Wild.
"We’re looking for some crowd participation and attendance over the weekend."
The Cougars will prepare for provincials with a few more tournaments in upcoming weekends and with some exhibition games against the North Dakota State University Bison club team and the Western Predators, who lead the Manitoba women’s junior league.
The winners of the Senior A and B provincial championships will represent Manitoba at the western Canadian championships in April in Red Deer, Alta.