After a 2013 season that saw the Saskatoon Valkyries suffer its first-ever regular season loss to their eternal rivals, the Regina Riot, it would have been easy to believe that the first dynasty in Western Woemn’s Canadian Football League (WWCFL) history was in decline. Such speculation was quickly erased after an undefeated season in 2014 that saw the Valkyries dominate their opponents by a cumulative score of 286-28.
On the path towards a fourth consecutive title, the Valkyries were facing the Lethbridge Steel. Having won their third straight Western Conference postseason title, the Steel were hoping that they could continue their streak of upsetting another first-place team. Defeating the Edmonton Storm by a narrow 29-26 margin, the triumph provided the silver and purple with hope.
Having faced Saskatoon twice before in the league championship, the Steel represented the hopes of many female football fans in Alberta. With a team from Alberta having previously appeared in three consecutive championship games, there was hope that a title could finally be brought back to the province.
Such expectations would be unmet once again as Saskatoon made a statement in a 53-0 whitewash. Such a lopsided victory established the Valkyries as the most dominant dynasty in the history of Canadian female football. Running on all cylinders, the game opened with rookie Ehjae Chan returning a punt 63 yards, as Saskatoon built up an impressive 29-0 lead by halftime.
A long pick six by Gillian Allen in the fourth quarter resulted in a 68-yard interception return, putting the game out of reach for a dejected Steel squadron. Quarterback Candace Bloomquist would pass for over 340 yards while completing a remarkable 70 percent of her passes to earn Game MVP honors.
While the drive for five in a row is the next objective for the proud Valkyries, sadly, it shall be without Bloomquist lining up behind centre. In many ways, she was reminiscent of Bart Starr, who won five titles with the Green Bay Packers in the National Football League during the 1960s. Just like Starr, Bloomquist may not have been the biggest quarterback, nor did she have the strongest arm. Yet, her leadership skills were incomparable, providing a presence that stabilized the squad.
Bloomquist held many special qualities that make her the most accomplished quarterback in WWCFL history. Having made the decision to retire on her own terms, satisfied with her legacy (one that is worthy of entry in the Canadian Football Hall of Fame), the one notion that all fans can agree upon is that the WWCFL gridiron will not be the same without her presence.
For now, the joyous celebration of victory is still fresh among the franchise. Having established a standard that has provided a remarkable sense of pride to the residents of Saskatoon, it is also a benchmark that may never be matched again. A complete franchise, filled with remarkable depth and a desire to win, if there was ever an entire team that was worthy of recognition in Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame, this is truly such a team.