The Assiniboine Community College (ACC) Cougars hockey team is a powerhouse once again.
The defending national champions in the American Collegiate Hockey Association's Women's Division 2 are looking to do it again this year as they are 8-0. Carman's own Simone Turner says a big key to their success is how hard they practice.
Turner notes they are technically going for a three-peat this season.
"We're unofficial but official, back-to-back champions. We won in 2019, and the next season we went undefeated but COVID cut the season short four or five days before we were supposed to leave for nationals. We were the top team going in," Turner explains. "The next year, we just lost completely (because of COVID). Those two years, there was no champion, and then we went back last year and won. So, technically we are back-to-back champions."
With that being the case, the forward believes the Cougars have a target on their back this season.
"Coach stresses quite a bit that we have to come out hot because we are the team to beat. We've only lost one game since that 2019 year. We're on a pretty good streak, and teams are gunning to beat us to show that they could be a potential contender for the national championship."
The 27-year-old forward is in her final season of eligibility with ACC after getting an extra year to play because of the COVID-19 setbacks. Turner has been a part of the program since 2014.
"I don't think I've quite processed it yet but I know that last skate will be full of emotions. Even last year, it wasn't my last year but at the national championship game, I cried before the buzzer even went," says Turner. "I had so many emotions then, I can't quite fathom what they will be like this year, especially having been a part of the program for nine years. I know I'm sure going to miss it but I'm hoping I can come back in another way."
The Carman native has had a ton of individual success over the last two seasons as she put up 35 points in 14 games in 2021-22 and added 13 points in their five wins at the national championship tournament. Turner now has 21 points through just six games this season.
"I believe I'm more of a playmaker than a goal scorer, whether the stats show that or not (has 36 goals and 20 assists over the last two seasons). I get so much joy from making a good pass, and then a girl scoring too," says Turner. "I work hard on and off the ice. I'm up to ten years older than some of the girls. So, I do have to work a little harder just to stay fit and keep up with them."
Turner doesn't just lead the team in scoring, as she was named team captain last season and wears the 'C' again this year.
"I've had several As (assistant captain). I was usually one of the younger players on the teams I played on, so I never quite got that captain role but nonetheless, I led in different ways. Having it on my shoulder does give a bit of extra responsibility to show the girls how to stay level-headed," Turner continues. "Just leading by example is my ultimate goal, which I feel I do a pretty good job at."
The senior encourages any young female hockey player to become a part of the Cougars program if they're given the opportunity, as she says she's had so many great times at ACC.
Turner and the Cougars will be back on the ice tomorrow as they take on North Dakota State University.