Editorial: Brandon teams collect provincial and national titles

Two Brandon hockey teams battled for supremacy in their respective divisions through the past week, forcing the Westman Journal to decide which championship was worthy of this week’s front page. Both earned it.

Although the Brandon Midget ‘AAA’ Wheat Kings were swept from the 2017-2018 Manitoba Midget ‘AAA’ Hockey League championship final by the Winnipeg Wild, a second encounter this season did not see the same result. The Wheat Kings defeated the Wild three games to one on March 24, capping a season that had Brandon lose to the Winnipeg squad every time they met during the regular season schedule.

In the playoffs, the Wild took Game 1, but Brandon rebounded by edging Winnipeg in Game 2 by a score of 3-2. The victory spurred the club on to 5-2 and 4-1 victories in Games 3 and 4, earning them a berth to the 2019 West Regional TELUS Cup in Tisdale, Sask., a meeting of Western Canada’s best Midget ‘AAA’ teams. That tournament also includes teams from Notre Dame and Tisdale, Sask., and Thunder Bay, Ont. The winner advances to the 2019 TELUS Cup Midget ‘AAA’ national championship tournament in Thunder Bay April 22 to 28.

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Four days after the ‘AAA’ Midgets claimed their banner, the Assiniboine Community College Cougars won the American Collegiate Hockey Association’s (ACHA) Division 2 national championship in Frisco, Tex.

The Cougar women’s hockey club knocked over the Minot State University Beavers 1-0 in the tournament final on Sunday. The ACC went unbeaten through the tournament’s round robin play before defeating the Beavers, a team they also had failed to overcome in six meetings through their 2019-2019 ACHA West Region competition.

The Cougars’ national Div. 2 championship trophy arrives just three seasons after ACC entered ACHA play. The team was ineligible for national competition its first year in the league and failed to advance from round robin play in last year’s meet.

To get to this year’s championship match, the Cougars won 8-0 and 6-1 over Mercyhurst and Northeast Universities during round robin play then eliminated Rowan University by a 6-1 margin in the quarterfinal. ACC earned their championship berth by upsetting the defending national champion club from Lakehead University of Thunder Bay, 2-1.

This was the second consecutive year the Minot State Beavers squad finished as runner-up at nationals.

So two Brandon teams catch a provincial and national title the same week. Considering the Brandon Wheat Kings failure to earn a Western Hockey League postseason berth, both teams provided Brandon area hockey fans one last gasp at cheering on an elite local club. Considering the ACC Cougars, who were seeded second in the ACHA West Region listings through most of the season, fulfilled their goal, they are featured on this week’s Page 1.

Meanwhile, the Brandon ‘AAA’ Wheat Kings move on to face Canada’s best. Like many playoff hungry hockey enthusiasts throughout the region, the Westman Journal will be watching closely and preparing another Page 1 feature when the Wheaties claim their national title.

They’ll need to get out of Tisdale to accomplish that.

Fingers crossed, the ‘AAA’ Wheat Kings will make 2019 a season of dual national championships.

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