By Carter Brooks
Photo courtesy of ACHA Nationals
The Assiniboine Community College Cougars are American Collegiate Hockey Association national champions.
The 21 young women making up Brandon's ACC Cougars women's hockey program concluded the most memorable hockey weekend of their lives Sunday afternoon. After travelling over 2,000 kilometres south to Frisco, TX. the Cougars put together a perfect week of hockey, ending play as national ACHA Division II champions, beating the Minot State Beavers who had not lost to ACC all season.
It was gritty effort after gritty effort for the Cougars, who rallied for two shutouts - including a 1-0 victory over their heavily-favoured Minot State opponents in the national championship game. Goaltender Marley Quesnel was sensational between the pipes, while Simone Turner-Cummer picked up most of the offence for ACC over the weekend.
After falling behind 1-0 to the defending back-to-back national champion Lakehead University 1-0 on Saturday in the semifinal, defenceman Turner-Cummer put the team on her back, scoring both the game-tying and game-winning goals, propelling ACC to their very first ACHA National Championship match.
Turner-Cummer picked things up Sunday right where she left them the day before, scoring the game's eventual only goal in the first 20 minutes. The power play strike was the Carman product's sixth goal of the tournament, as the blueliner failed to score in just one of her five games.
Turner-Cummer scored once on Wednesday in the Cougars' 8-0 victory over Mercyhurst University, before picking up two goals on Thursday against Northeastern University. She added another two markers against Lakehead University on Saturday before rightfully being named the ACHA tournament MVP with the game-winner Sunday.
"It feels amazing," Turner-Cummer said to media post-game Sunday. "It's surreal. Obviously it's a team sport and I couldn't have done it without my teammates, but the fact that I was able to find the net was amazing. Right from the start we have been a team. I think that is what got us here. We had one goal, and we accomplished that today, and it feels amazing. As I said, without the team, we wouldn't have gotten here."
Goaltender Marley Quesnel continued her dominant play Sunday, stopping all 18 shots she faced in the national championship game. The Dauphin native picked up her second shutout of the week, in helping Head Coach Tony Bertone and longtime team manager Larry Shannon to their very first national championship banner. For the first time in program history, ACC will return home to Brandon as ACHA national champions.