The Assiniboine Community College Cougars women’s hockey team used home ice to their advantage to become provincial champions on Sunday.
The Cougars allowed one goal during the Hockey Manitoba women’s Senior B championships at Kinsmen and Optimist Arenas and they capped their run with a 2-0 win over Winnipeg’s Rage II on Sunday afternoon.
Improving their play was the Cougars’ focus for the weekend, and head coach Terry Arksey was impressed with his players ability to shut down their opponents during ACC’s four games.
"The girls played very, very well from the goaltender to defence and forwards," he said. "They all contributed to this win and it was a total team effort. … In the past we gave up scoring chances, but this weekend that was our focus to tighten up our defence and we shored it up pretty good."
Kira Nyhuis had a goal and an assist in the final, with Bree Vanhove also finding the back of the net for the Cougars.
Kristen Friesen recorded her third straight shutout in net. Kayla Chomokovski’s first-period goal in the tournament’s opener was the only shot to get past Friesen during the event.
Nyhuis admitted was quite motivated for provincials. She is from Fort Saskatchewan, Alta., and wanted an opportunity to play closer to home at the Western Canadian Shield, which will be held from April 10-13 in Red Deer, Alta. The only way she could do that was if her team won the championship and they came through in a big way.
"I was really stoked to go to nationals so we all kind of worked together," she said. "The team knew I was excited about it so it’s what we did. I think our team came together this weekend. It’s probably the best weekend we’ve ever played together and it set us up nicely for what’s to come."
ACC finished first in its preliminary round group with a 2-0 record. The Cougars then beat the Devils 9-0. Nyhuis had three goals and two assists in that game, while Brittany Phillips and Shayna Fluker both netted a pair.
While Arksey was proud of his team’s play on the weekend, he hopes they can play just as well in April when they go to the Western Canadian Shield.
"It’s definitely going to be a confidence booster for our team," he said. "The girls have worked hard to this point and I’m definitely excited to taking the next step to representing the province at Red Deer."
Meanwhile, the Minnedosa Wild beat the Brandon Bandits 5-3 in Saturday’s fifth-place game. Danica Wotton and Candace Claeys had a pair of goals for Minnedosa, with Kailey Benoit supplying the other. Gwen McMullen, Ashley Shaw and Marlene Burton replied for the Bandits. Both Minnedosa and Brandon went 0-2 in the preliminary round.
In the women’s Senior A championship, Deena Caplette scored twice and set up another goal for the Winnipeg-based Herd as they beat the Manitoba Maple Leafs 4-1. Lisa Kissick and Julie Beaudette also scored for the Herd, while Melissa Jacques replied for the Maple Leafs.
The Herd will join the Cougars as the Manitoba representatives at the Western Canadian Shield.