It was a busy weekend of ringette in rinks all around Red Deer as more than 60 teams of every age group converged on the City for the annual Red Deer Ringette Baymont Friends on Ice Tournament.
Now in its 33rd year, the popular tournament saw teams from around Alberta come to compete and have some fun at what has become one of the largest ringette tournaments in the province.
“Minus a few minor hiccups it was a very successful weekend. I think everybody enjoyed themselves. A lot of them had fun and that is what it is about. It’s all about fun, friendship and fair play,” said Tournament Coordinator Pam Jones of the event, which took place from Friday through Saturday last weekend at the Kinsmen, Kinex, Dawe and Penhold arenas.
It was a good weekend on the ice for Red Deer’s local ringette teams, who combined for eight medals at their home tourney.
According to Jones the way the teams played at the tournament showcased how much they have improved over the first half of the season.
“I think our teams are doing well. I think they are getting better. It’s mid-season, we’ve got about two months left of ringette and we’ve come a long ways since September,” she said, noting it takes a lot of people to make a tournament like this one a success.
“Our community helps us a lot. Our parents in ringette do a huge amount of volunteering for shifts and team jobs.”
Over the past 33 years, the Friends on Ice Tournament has grown to become the third largest ringette tournament in the province, trailing only Calgary’s Esso Golden Ring Tournament and the Edmonton Silver Ring Tournament for number of teams.
Jones said the tournament committee is extremely proud of how much the sport has grown in Red Deer and around Alberta since she and her co-chair Elaine Die took over the tournament five years ago.
“It’s girls of winter. It’s the fastest sport on ice. We’re trying to get these girls athletic and get them to be well-rounded. Some girls want to skate but they don’t want to play hockey and this is their thing,” she said.
In fact, Red Deer Ringette is launching an eight session introductory recreational ringette league on Friday for that very purpose.
“It’s for kids anywhere from five to six-year-olds to 12-year-olds who may want to join but aren’t sure what it’s like,” said Jones, noting the program, which will be run by volunteer Red Deer Ringette coaches, will go through drills and practicing skills in a game setting.
Jones said she wants to extend thanks to the City of Red Deer and arena staff who worked hard to make sure everything went smoothly during the tournament.
“They were amazing and helped out so much by making sure that the ice was done.”
Red Deer Ringette teams who came away from the tournament with medals included the U10-3 RD Ice Breakers (gold) and Ice Queens (silver), the U12A RD Rush (gold), the U12B RD Riot (silver), the U12C RD Extreme (gold), the U14A RD Riot (silver), the U16B RD Rampage (gold) and the Open D RD Confusion (gold).