While the Assiniboine Cougars' title reign has ended after two years, the squad is still incredibly proud of their sustained success.
Assiniboine Community College fell 2-1 in double overtime to the ACHA tournament semi-final to Northeastern University. Carman's own Simone Turner wrapped up her senior season with the squad, and says sometimes the bounces just don't go your way.
"The tournament started off really well for us. We were definitely playing our game (They won their first three games 10-0, 5-0, and 7-0). As it went on, the competition got harder, as it was supposed to," Turner continues. "By the time the semis came, I believe we played quite well but the bounces just didn't go our way, and the other team capitalized when it mattered."
Despite outshooting Northeastern 32-16, the Cougars were unable to move on and go for the illustrious three-peat. However, ACC has become a powerhouse in this league, winning the tournament last year and in 2019 (2020 and 2021 had no champions due to COVID-19).
Turner, this year's team captain, has been a part of this team for a very long time. Her rookie season came all the way back in 2014. She talks about how the program changed during her tenure.
"My rookie year, let's just say nobody wanted to play for ACC because they always got blown out. Once I got recruited in 2014, we went to provincials, and that's when the success started to happen," Turner explains. "From there, I believe, the college moved the program in the right direction and hired the right people. The money put into the program paid off. We got some good coaches and some good athletes, and then success just started to come."
The Carman native believes she was able to level up her game in their first championship season.
"In 2014, I really started to step out of my shell and figure out who I was on the ice. From there, we had a coaching change while I was here, and as soon as the coaches changed, that's when I noticed my game really starting to shift," says Turner. "These coaches have been with me since that big win in 2019, and I think my game has just continued to grow."
Turner has been one of the main catalysts for the program's turnaround. She put up 16 points in 19 games in 2018-19, while also scoring over a goal-per-game on their championship run. Last season Turner became an over-powering offensive force, ending the regular season with 35 points in just 14 games. This year, she doubled that total accumulating an astonishing 71 points in just 24 games (2.96 points-per-game). Turner led the ACHA Women's Division 2 in both goals and assists.
"I think I just had a hot stick this year," Turner says humbly. "I guess I've always been a goal-scorer, growing up. It just happened that this year I managed to find that piece of me again. I was seeing the net really well, and my teammates were finding me. I guess I was also finding my teammates. I don't know what it was. It was my last season, so I figured I had to give it everything."
Turner has no regrets and is delighted to say that she did exactly what she set out to do this year, give it everything. Now, the 27-year-old will close the chapter on her playing career and look ahead to the future.
"I'm definitely going to focus more on the career I started (accounting). I'll eventually get more into coaching but I think I'll start off a little bit slow and help out here and there with some different teams that have already asked me to but have no full commitment yet. Maybe one day, I'll find myself back at ACC."
Turner adds there's more to life than hockey but notes that's much easier to preach than practice. She believes what she'll remember most from her college hockey career is the friendships she made along the way. Turner says being a Cougar taught her that hard work pays off most of the time, with the exception being this season's defeat.