Women's high school hockey champs Lancers claim crown

The Dakota Lancers came into their final game with red hot sticks — and left with a glint of gold around their necks. In front of a boisterous MTS Iceplex crowd, the Lancers claimed a decisive 4-1 victory Thursday over the Louis Riel Voyageurs, en route to being declared the Winnipeg Women’s High School Hockey League Division A champs. When the final buzzer rang, the girls swarmed the ice, leaping into a final team hug.

“I’m speechless, it’s amazing,” said Grade 12 Dakota player Natasha Esquivel, who recorded a hat trick for the winners. “I just want to keep going, but it was an awesome season, amazing game, and I love the girls on my team.”

The teams came into the game ready for a battle. After splitting two matches during the season, Dakota had taken a lead in their best-of-three final series with a 4-1 win on Tuesday.

But in the end, the Voyageurs couldn’t find an answer for the Lancers’ firepower. Consider Dakota’s opening goal, a beauty by 15-year-old phenom Kayla Friesen, who was lurking on the Voyageurs blue-line. She caught a breakout pass from Ashten Vankoughnett, streaked forward, beat a Voyageurs defenceman clean and deked out Louis Riel goalie Lauren LaFleche. With 5:12 left in the first period, the puck found the back of the net.

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