FULL FORCE - Nadia McKeage

Local ringette teams fare well in tournament

It was a very successful weekend for Red Deer’s ringette teams.

Red Deer Ringette hosted the 32nd annual Baymont Friends on Ice tournament in the City over the weekend, as teams from all over the province flocked to the City to compete.

“It was great. A bunch of our teams made the finals and really only two made gold but several made silver,” said Tournament Coordinator Pam Jones.

This is Jones’ fourth year as the tournament chair.

The tournament featured 63 teams ranging in age groups from U6 all the way up to the Open level, which is for players over the age of 19.

“It’s a lot of organizing. We have a lot of parent volunteers from every team that step up and help us with some organization and getting our baskets and raffle tables and decorating,” Jones said, adding that parents also volunteered to help out throughout the weekend to make the tournament a success.

“A big thank you to all our parents and our volunteers and our committee. It wouldn’t be a tournament or successful at all without all of them.”

Red Deer was represented by 19 teams across all 13 divisions at the three day long tournament, which took place at the Kinsmen, Dawe, Kinex and Collicutt Centre. Of those 19 teams, three came away with a gold medal while another four took home silver.

“The weekend went really well. We ended up playing three games in the round robin, we won three of those,” said Greg Swenson, head coach of the gold medal winning U12B Red Deer Rath.

The Rath had a great weekend, going undefeated in round robin play with victories over the Airdrie Sting, Calgary Ice Breakers and the Saskatoon Galaxy before defeating the Ice Breakers 8-7 in the Sunday morning final to clinch the medal.

“I was really happy about the way the girls played,” Swenson said, adding the team’s goaltenders, Piper Liska and Camryn Jackson, played well throughout the weekend.

Another Red Deer team that found success was the U14A Red Deer Ricochet.

After getting off to a good start to the weekend with an 8-2 win over the Edmonton Impact, the Ricochet met their match in the second game, falling to the Calgary South Crossfire 5-0.

“The weekend went well, the girls played really hard. They played together and played some of our best games of the year,” said Coach Darcy Brown.

Despite the setback, the Ricochet managed to bounce back on Saturday, earning a 4-1 decision over the Calgary NW Virta in a do-or-die game to clinch their spot in the finals and book their rematch with the Crossfire.

“The girls were a little nervous but also excited to make the final because they were guaranteed a medal either way.”

Sunday’s 9:30 a.m. game was a hard fought battle. Going into the second half the Crossfire held a 3-2 lead.

But the Ricochet would not be beat.

They clawed their way back to tie the game and keep it there until the final two minutes when, with one final push, the Ricochet scored to clinch the 5-4 victory.

“We were really proud of their effort and it’s a really good life lesson for the girls,” Brown said, adding the team really came together to win the game.

The third and final Red Deer team to bring home first place was the Open D Red Deer Confusion, who earned five straight victories and scored a total of 43 goals in the process.

Other highlights for Red Deer’s ringette program were the four teams who came away from the weekend with silver medals, including the U10 step 2 Red Deer Hurricanes, the U10 step 3 Red Deer Ring Rulers, the U12A Red Deer Whiplash, and the U14B Red Deer Riptide, who came incredibly close to winning the final game against the Airdrie Sting.

After going into the second period down by two goals, the Riptide mounted a comeback to tie the game in the final 10 minutes and force a five minute overtime period.

They couldn’t quite complete the comeback, though, as Airdrie scored to clinch the 7-6 win.

“That was a hard fought battle,” said Jones, whose daughter plays on the team.

In the end, she said, a good tournament was had by all.

zcormier@reddeerexpress.com