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The Assiniboine Community College Cougars women’s hockey team qualified for Nationals in their first season as full-time members in Division 2 of the American Collegiate Hockey Association. The Cougars
went into the tournament ranked third in the West with a 19-4-0-4 record this season.

Columbus, Ohio held the twelve-team tournament from March 14-18, 2018. The tournament draw was four pools of three teams each, with each team also playing a crossover game against a team in another pool. The Cougars were in Pool D along with Bishop’s University (ranked #2 in the East) and Adrian College (ranked #5 in the West). To make it out of your pool to the semi-finals, you had to be the top team in the pool. The Cougars played North Dakota State University (ranked #4 in the West) for their crossover game.

The Cougars had a terrific start to the tournament, opening with a 6-1 win over the North Dakota State University Bisons on March 14. Going into the tournament the Cougars were aware of needing to win
all the games in their pool and that Bishop’s University would be their most challenging game. This match-up took place on March 15 and was an intense game for the Cougars. Ultimately, Bishop’s University won 2-1. It was a physical game and the Cougars gave it their all. However, the loss meant they were no longer able to qualify for semi-finals as Bishop’s University had previously beat Adrian College on March 14, automatically putting them as first in Pool D and qualifying them through to the semi-finals.

On March 16, the Cougars played their last game of the National Tournament and of the season against Adrian College. Again, the Cougars played with a lot of heart and came out on top with a 6-2 win.

When asked about the experience of playing at the national level, Rachel Charles said, “I think it was a really good experience to be at nationals and see what it’s like to compete in a big tournament like that. It wasn’t the result we were looking for, but I think it will make us even stronger when we come back next year and hopefully win the championship”.

One of the main highlights of the trip to Columbus for the Cougars, outside of the experience of playing in a national championship, was that the team was able to attend a Columbus Blue Jackets practice and to meet fellow Brandonite, Matt Calvert before their first game.

“Meeting Matt and the Blue Jackets was an awesome experience, we got to see their practice and their locker room,” said Mariah McCue, “It motivated a lot of us because even guys from a smaller town in Canada can make it to the highest level possible of hockey”.