The Winnipeg Ice have become the first ever team from Manitoba’s capital to earn a provincial championship within the Manitoba Female U-18 AAA Hockey League.
Thanks to a narrow 1-0 overtime victory over the familiar Westman Wildcats, the Ice finished off a best-of-five series sweep Tuesday night on the road in Hartney.
And they did so in dramatic fashion.
Scoring the game-winner was regular season point-scoring leader Haley Braun, who beat Grace Glover with a long-range wrist shot at 13:08 of the five-on-five overtime period.
ICYMI: Haley Braun nets the OT winner to complete the series sweep as the ICE win the 2022/23 MFHL U18 AAA PROVINCIAL TITLE! pic.twitter.com/3uuq1GVrBn
— WinnipegIceAAA (@WinnipegIceAAA) March 29, 2023
Having fallen behind 1-0 in the series-opener in Hartney, the Ice responded with four unanswered goals, taking the first game by a 4-1 final. Game 2 was an extremely tight 1-0 regulation victory for Winnipeg, while Game 3 also provided the same final score. However, it took nearly four periods of work to get to that point.
Tuesday’s win also served as a form of retribution toward the Wildcats, as Westman had previously handed Winnipeg a three-game sweep of its own in last year’s championship final.
But this time around it was goaltender Jordyn Nepinak-Sargent who earned back-to-back shutouts for the Ice and allowed just one goal the entire series. And in terms of offence, Braun was the only player to bulge the twine in each of the final two games.
Arguably 2 of the best tendies in U18AAAF are going back at it again tonight for Game 3 of the #MFHL Finals. The Wpg Ice have a 2-0 best-of-5 series lead on Westman & could win 🏆 tonight
This Post Season ⬇️
G. Glover 🐆 1.93 GAA / 0.929 SV%
J. Nepinak-Sargent 🐻❄️0.86 / 0.969 % pic.twitter.com/f44i5CqDKB
— Ice Wave Media (@IceWaveMediaMB) March 28, 2023
As a matter of fact, she had three points in the series for Winnipeg and 12 total points in her eight postseason games. But it was her linemate Stephanie Jacob, who led the team with 13 points and 47 shots on goal in nine playoff games.
“We have built on so much from last year,” Jacob told Game On. “But we have really taken it to a whole new level this season, having most of our players returning. Our coaches emphasized to us that we are going to have to do it as a team if we really want to win it. So, seeing the success that we have when we play as a team just really motivated us to play that much better here.”
Not only did Tuesday’s overtime goal complete the MFHL playoffs, but it also sent the Ice to the Western Canadian regional play-in series with the winner of the Saskatchewan Female Under-18 AAA Hockey League’s championship. The Saskatoon Stars currently hold a 1-0 series lead over the Regina Rebels. The winner of the three-game regional play-in will serve as Team West at the ESSO Cup in Prince Albert this April 23-29.
“The ESSO Cup is definitely something that everyone in girls hockey knows about and talks about,” Jacob added. “Given the opportunity to go play there, it would be something unforgettable. Having that chance would be an awesome way to end the season.”