BY KALISHA MENDONSA
It was an emotional weekend for the Lacombe Edge U19 ringette team, who hosted the U19B Provincial Championship and skated away with a bronze medal.
Lacombe hosted teams from Medicine Hat, Fort Saskatchewan, Fort McMurray, Airdrie/Cochrane, Calgary, Strathmore and St. Albert.
The girls of the Medicine Hat Avalanche took home the gold with an 8-6 win over Fort Saskatchewan.
Coach Chad Collins said the weekend went very well, and he was proud overall of the performance and the dedication left on the ice. He said the Medicine Hat Avalanche team fought well for their gold, and gave the Edge team some stiff competition.
“In one of our games on Saturday, we had a shot at tying the game up with only five seconds left. Medicine Hat scored at that last second and ultimately took us over,” Collins admitted, but he said the game was hard fought.
He said this was a particularly emotional game for Edge, as it would determine placements for the finals.
“They really had their hearts set on gold. Ultimately, they played that game as if it were the gold medal game, and that’s where the points kind of decided things. Medicine Hat celebrated like they had just won gold. It was a big game going into it, and Medicine Hat knew what they were coming in to do.”
He said it was a devastating loss for the team, but they were able to recover a little for Sunday’s game, dominating the Fort Saskatchewan Ice 13-1.
“The team took it pretty hard, but at least we were able to take that forward to Fort Saskatchewan. I think they took a little bit of their frustration there, honestly,” Collins said with a laugh.
He said he was proud of the team for pulling together and coming away with their bronze.
However, it was a meaningful weekend for more reasons than a medal.
“Our U19 team has four second-years – one being my daughter – with a few of them moving on next year, to school and other things. So for them, it was their last game together – for now, anyway,” Collins said.
“As they get older, they might find themselves in a league where they could play again together, but really that was their last hurrah together, and was really good for them.”
Off and on, Collins has been coaching ringette for over 12 years.
He and his wife, Andrea, have both been able to see many of the players now on the U19 team grow throughout their career.
As his own daughter wraps up her Lacombe ringette career and moves onto post-secondary, Chad said he and his wife are likely going to be taking a bit of a step back from the game for awhile.
“It’s been incredible to be a part of this,” he said.
“Andrea and I look at those kids as a part of our own family, and the respect levels between them and us, both ways, are absolutely phenomenal. The parents and community as a whole are phenomenal. I’ve seen some of them grow from little kids to become what they have, which is adults, really. It’s actually very hard to put into words exactly how it feels.”
He said he doubts there is a coach in the province who feels the same amount of pride he did this weekend, seeing the team push for their medal and enjoying their moments together.
He noted that although some of the girls are moving out of the local league, there are many up-and-coming stars on the ice that he is excited to see move forward.
“Our U19 team had a core of only eight players, and had to use U16 and U14 players. That means that we had 13-year-olds who played for us that have a long career ahead of them. They’re playing two levels up right now, and the sky is the limit for them. They play with us because they love the game and they’re good at it, so it will be fun to watch and see where they take it from here.”
Collins said it’s been difficult to think of moving forward, as he and his family have created such strong ties with the local ringette community.
He said his entire family has enjoyed being a part of the community, and now that his daughter is going onto school, it’s simply a time to take a bit of a breather.
He did, however, remain adamant that he and his wife will never really be out of the scene.
“Andrea and I have been asked quite a few times by different people to come back in the fall to coach and ref. Part of us would like to do that, but there is a part of us that needs to take a step back,” he said simply.
“I’ve told the kids that I’ll talk to them and see what we’re going to do next fall. I think the long and the short of it is that we are not going to make any decisions until the fall. I know that I’m ready to go again right now, but we just finished the season. The weekend was highly emotional, and very fun – it was an absolute blast. That said, I still don’t know what the future holds.”
Overall, Lacombe Edge had a successful season, with the U12 and U14 teams taking gold at their provincial levels, U16 finishing with a silver, and of course, the U19s coming away with a bronze.