The Central Alberta Sting’s AA teams are gearing up for their annual Icebreaker Tournament in Lacombe this weekend.
Lacombe’s Barnett Arenas will play host to elite level ringette teams all throughout this weekend, including teams from all over Alberta and some from out of province as well.
“It’s basically our association tournament that we host every year,” said Greg Lunn, the President of the CA Sting Ringette Club.
The tournament will feature AA teams in divisions ranging from U14 to U19.
“All the AA teams from Central Alberta are coming. We do have some teams from Manitoba coming out too,” Lunn said.
The tournament, which kicks off this Friday morning, will feature eight teams in each age group competing in a round-robin format.
Central Alberta will be represented by the U14AA Sting and the U16AA Sting as well as two teams at the U19 level, as this year there will be an open level team competing in that division.
Lunn said the Central Alberta teams all have a good chance of bringing home the gold medal.
“It depends on the weekend, where we’re at with all of the teams in the province. We see these teams quite a bit. We start out in November in Edmonton and we play here in December and then we go to Calgary and then provincials in February, so everyone’s just getting their teams ready and trying to get ready for provincials at the end of February,” he said.
When asked why the association chooses to host their Ice Breaker Tournament halfway through the season, Lunn said the purpose is actually different than what the name might suggest.
“It was just a name that was always associated with the tournament. I don’t know why it’s called Icebreaker, I think it was just a name that was thrown out there,” he said.
“Basically it’s something that Central does because the one in Edmonton is hosted by ERC and then we host one in Central and then the one in Calgary is hosted by Calgary. More than anything it’s a timing thing,” he said.
In minor hockey, especially at the lower levels, tournaments are more of a chance to play teams from outside of the league and brush up a little bit in games that won’t affect the league standings.
But they tend to mean quite a bit more for AA ringette players.
“Most of our AA teams play in a Black Gold or a Calgary league. The U14’s would play in a U16A league just to get to be able to see other teams playing at a little higher calibre. But at the end of the day it’s all exhibition games until provincials. There’s no actual AA league,” Lunn said.
The same holds true for all age groups.
So for AA ringette teams, tournaments are the only time the players get to compete against the teams they will see in provincials.
“It’s a stepping stone all the way through. It’s a good time that all the Central teams get to go head to head,” he said.
This year, the tournament will also feature a Christmas themed silent auction that will include homemade crafts that the tournament committee has put together.
“We have a good group of people that step up and help. We have a committee that’s looked after doing all the volunteer positions and manning the front tables, 50/50 draws, all that kind of stuff,” Lunn said.
The tournament kicks off on Friday morning at 9 a.m. and will run all day Friday and Saturday at the Barnett Arenas before wrapping up with the finals on Sunday.