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Quesnel, Denby help Cougars make history

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The Assiniboine Community College Cougars women’s hockey team made history, Mar. 31, with the help of two players from the Parkland.
Goaltender Marley Quesnel of Dauphin and forward Jasmin Denby of Winnipegosis helped the Cougars win the American Collegiate Hockey Association’s Division 2 women’s national championship, Mar. 31.
After posting a regular season record of 18-6-1, the Cougars qualified for the Division 2 national championship tournament in Frisco, Tex., where they went a perfect 5-0, allowing just three goals against.
ACC opened the tournament with an 8-0 win over Mercyhurst University, Mar. 27.
Denby had a goal and two assists and Quesnel stopped all 10 shots for the shutout.
In the second game the next day, Denby chipped in with three assists and Quesnel stopped 13 of 14 shots in a 6-1 win over Northeastern University.
The Cougars ended the round-robin with another 6-1 win, this time over Rowan University, with Denby recording one assist.
In the semifinals, ACC beat Lakehead University, 2-1, on the strength of a 15-save performance from Quesnel, while Denby contributed an assist.
The championship game, Mar. 31, saw the Cougars take a 1-0 lead over Minot State University with a power-play goal at 15:09 of the opening period and then hang on for a 1-0 victory and the national title.
Quesnel stopped all 18 shots she faced to record her second shutout of the tournament.
Overall, Denby finished with a goal and seven assists for eight points, while Quesnel posted a stingy 0.50 GAA and incredible .964 save percentage, stopping 54 of 56 shots.
Quesnel said the tournament was different from any other tournament she has played in.
“We got to play against so many different teams that we’ve never played before. And we had a great outcome from it,” she said.
Quesnel felt she upped her game for the tournament, stating she wanted to play the best she could. She credited her defence for the great job they did all tournament.
“I wanted to make sure we won. But I definitely had a lot of help from my teammates. The defence was always blocking shots and the forwards did a great job of keeping it in the offensive zone. So they definitely helped out with that,” she said.
The Cougars were underdogs entering the final game, having lost all six times they played Minot State during the regular season.
“But our coach said right before the game that this was the only game that mattered. So we wanted to beat them and we knew that we could. So we just worked really hard,” Quesnel said.
“We went into the tournament with one goal and that was winning it. So we just wanted to achieve that.”
The players experienced a wide range of emotions when the final buzzer sounded.
“There was crying and so much smiling. It was just a blur of happiness. Once that final buzzer went and we realized we won, it was just a moment of joy that we finally achieved what we went there to do,” Quesnel said.
This was Quesnel’s first season with the Cougars. She did not get to play much last season and feels she improved a lot as the season went on.
“Just with the help of my teammates and coaches along the way,” she said.
For Denby, she was pleased with how well the team played throughout the tournament.
“We had a good week of hockey. We all played together as a team and we never stopped fighting. And it got us the national championship,” she said, adding communication was a key to the team’s success.
“We’re all pretty close, so that helped us with the wins,” she said.
Like Quesnel, this was Denby’s first year with the Cougars and she could not ask for a better season than to win the national championship.
The Cougars stayed at the same hotel as the Liberty University Flames, which won the ACHA’s women’s Division 1 national title. That allowed the two teams to celebrate together.
“It was pretty fun. That never really happens at all. That was the first time that happened, so it was pretty cool,” Denby said.
Denby took a year off from school before heading to college. Playing with the Cougars helped her to improve her game as the season progressed.
The dying moments of the championship game were pretty stressful, Denby said.
“It felt like time really slowed down a lot. That last period was forever and I’m just glad we got the win,” she added.

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Doug Zywina
REPORTER
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