Léo-Rémillard, Murdoch MacKay win hockey championships
Four east Winnipeg teams compete in women’s high school hockey finals
Another high school hockey season is in the books. And what a season it was for east Winnipeg athletes.
In the Manitoba Women’s High School Hockey League, four east Winnipeg schools made it to the division finals. Two, Centre scolaire Léo-Rémillard and Murdoch MacKay Collegiate, took home championship banners
In Division 1, Centre scolaire Léo-Rémillard took on Churchill High School, winning the opening match of the finals 5-2 on March 10. However, Churchill fought back to win Game 2 5-3 on March 14 to force the deciding match the next day. But Léo-Rémillard prevailed, winning 4-1 to capture the Division 1 championship.
Mariella Daigneault, head coach of the program, said she was proud of the girls on the team for their achievements this season.
“The key for us was to work together as a group with every girl contributing what they can and helping each other out on the ice,” Daigneault said. “For us, there was a bit of nerves. The final was the only series pushed to Game 3. But when our backs were against the wall, that’s when our best play came out.”
Léo-Rémillard finished second in the regular season, with a 20-5-2 record.
“It was a lot of hard work and dedication that was put in by each and every girl,” Daigneault said. “In high school hockey, you have girls coming from all different levels of hockey playing on one team. It’s always about finding what works. I was fortunate to have girls with a great work ethic. They always put out one hundred per cent effort.”
In the playoffs, CSLR beat Shaftesbury in two straight quarter-final games to advance to the semifinals, where CSLR against dispatched its opponent, this time St. Mary’s Academy, in two straight games. Meanwhile, Churchill upset top ranked Collège Jeanne-Sauvé in the semifinals. After CJS won the opening game 10-3, Churchill dug deep and won 2-1 then again 4-3 to advance to the finals.
“We were a very perseverant team. You could never count us out,” Daigneault said. “We never gave up on a game, ever.”
The championship banner is the school’s third, having won Division 2 in 2017-18 and 2019-20.
Meanwhile, Murdoch MacKay Collegiate beat Dakota to earn another Division 3 title, extending the school’s championship winning streak back to 2019. Murdoch won the first game of the 2022-23 playoff finals 1-0 on March 9, then won 3-1 on March 10 to capture the crown.
The team won the Hire Marketing Division 3 banner last season, and were poised to play against neighbouring Collège Pierre-Elliott-Trudeau in the finals in March 2020, before the COVID-19 pandemic shut play down. At that time, Murdoch was the reigning 2019 division champion.
“The school is super proud,” Pamela Heaphy, team manager and a teacher at Murdoch MacKay, said. “This year we didn’t even know if we’d have a team. We only had 11 players on the roster, but the girls dug deep and recruited some ringette players and friends and made it work.”
Heaphy credited the coaching staff with giving the girls confidence to play to their respective strengths, which included speed and work ethic.
“They moved in a nice rhythm together,” Heaphy said. “They started off strong, with a system that worked for them. Around Christmas, our team struggled a bit, we realized we had to step it up and try things differently. They learned how to cope with that and go with it.”
Murdoch MacKay, which finished top of the division with a 21-4-1 record, earned a bye into the semifinal round against Westwood. Murdoch won the two games back-to-back. Dakota beat Portage Collegiate Institute in two straight in the quarter-finals, then dispatched Collège Pierre-Elliott-Trudeau in a sweep, as well, to set up the final against Murdoch.
“We have incredible senior players,” Heaphy said. “We had zero drama, a group of friends who chose to be together. The mentorship was huge. We did a lot of team building. Even if it wasn’t a favourable result, they had a good time with each other.”
In Division 2, Garden City defeated Collège Béliveau in the final, winning the first game 4-0 on March 9 then completing the sweep with a 5-1 win on March 13. Béliveau made it to the final after beating St. John’s-Ravenscourt two games to one in the quarter-final, then sweeping Lorette in two games in the semis.
Sheldon Birnie is a reporter/photographer for the Free Press Community Review. The author of Missing Like Teeth: An Oral History of Winnipeg Underground Rock (1990-2001), his writing has appeared in journals and online platforms across Canada, the U.S. and the U.K. A husband and father of two young children, Sheldon enjoys playing guitar and rec hockey when he can find the time. Email him at email@example.com Call him at 204-697-7112