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Manitoba wins women's hockey championship

Joey Langdon | Interrobang | Sports | March 26th, 2018

Despite the firmly purple partisan Thompson Arena crowd, the Manitoba Bisons were able to defeat the Western Mustangs 2-0 to win the U Sports (national) women's hockey championship.

The tournament took place from March 15 to March 18 in London at the Thompson Arena, home of the Western Mustangs, who came into the tournament ranked #3 in the country.

The #1 ranked Bisons only gave up one goal all tournament, shutting out #8 Queen's (ON) 4-0 and beating the eventual bronze medalists #4 Concordia (QC) by a score of 2-1.

Finnish Olympian Venla Hovi won player of the game honours for the Bison, Hovi scored the insurance marker midway through the second to put the Bison ahead for good. After winning a bronze medal with Finland earlier this year at the Pyongchang Olympics, Hovi has had a very successful season. “I don't really rank things like this, I told them, this team is everything to me right now. They're like my family so this means everything for me,” Hovi said after the game.

It was a heartbreaking and frustrating loss for the Mustangs, in front of a sold-out crowd at their home arena, they were stifled at every turn by the Bison's defense and were held to just 3 shots in the entire second period.

Before this was the bronze medal game. The #4 Concordia (QC) Stingers took on the #7 Saskatchewan Huskies. Concordia got there by demolishing St. Francis Xavier (STFX) 7-1 in the first game before falling to Manitoba as previously mentioned. Saskatchewan scored a major upset in the first game of the tournament, upsetting the #2 ranked St. Mary's (SMU) Huskies 3-2.

Saskatchewan outshot the Stingers but it was no match for Julie Chu's team as the Concordia defence stood tall, especially the player-of-the-game performance shutout by goaltender Katherine Purchase. Concordia claimed the bronze medal by a score of 4-0.

In the 5th place game, #5 STFX took on #6 Montreal. STFX came in with high expectations but those high hopes were immediately dashed when they were destroyed in their opener 8-1 by Concordia. Then they had to face #8 Queen's (ON) and it took overtime for them to dispatch the Gaels 4-3. Montreal opened with a tough opponent, taking on hosts Western, falling victim to the home crowd and dropping the opener 4-0. Then in the consolation semi, they once again had a tough draw, taking on the recently-upset #2 SMU Huskies. The Carabins made the most of the opportunity, sending the Huskies home early and winning 2-1.

While #8 Queen's (ON) left disappointed, no team was more let down by their performance than the #2 ranked SMU Huskies. The SMU Huskies came into this tournament as a favourite to make the finals, but was upset in the first round by the other dogs, the Saskatchewan Huskies, by a score of 3-2 in the very first game of the tournament.

The Western band was in attendance for every game of the weekend, bringing the crowds to life. Their clothing matching their own school's seating at the arena. With their band leader on bass, he guided the group through a number of entertaining performances that became the cherry on top of the weekend for those attending.

The Western and London communities both were very welcoming to the visiting players, officials, media and supporters. Fans and family came from around the country and even the globe
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