Host with the most

CAMERON MAXWELL -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 8:02 AM ET

Calgary's Oval X-treme has a chance to make history in its own backyard.

Yesterday, the Western Women's Hockey League announced the inaugural championship tournament will be held in Calgary starting March 18, with the final set for March 20 at Max Bell Centre.

After dominating the league all year, the powerful X-Treme won the regular season title with a 20-0-1 record, tying their final game of the season against the Minnesota Whitecaps.

With the Whitecaps, as well as the Edmonton Chimos in town for the three-team round robin tourney, Hayley Wickenheiser of the X-Treme said claiming the title is no gimme, especially with Minnesota in the mix.

"They have a good team," said Wickenheiser, a national team player who led the league in scoring 22 goals and 36 assists. "They've got five or six players that are current or former national team players, they have an Olympic team goalie and they gave us a good game."

With the clubs playing three games in two days, the strongest will survive and with so much attention given to training by the Oval athletes, the X-Treme players believe they have the edge.

"The difference we have over Minnesota is conditioning," said Wickenheiser.

"We're a better-conditioned team and that's where the advantage lies."

Calgary is on the ice six days a week and, on top of that, they skate in the morning and train with weights in the afternoon three days a week, with bikes and conditioning work twice a week.

"It's basically like a full-time job -- you're going at it six to eight hours a day," said Wickenheiser.

The X-Treme's first game is against Minnesota March 18 (Olympic Oval, 7 p.m.), with the championship final going two days later at 1 p.m.

Tickets are available at the Olympic Oval (220-2954).


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