In an exciting championship game, the Central Alberta U16 AA ringette team defeated Calgary 4-3 to claim the gold medal at the Sting Icebreaker tournament this past Sunday.
Sting Coach Jackie Lunn said her team played an excellent game, showing strong effort and playing hard the entire match, never letting up. She that effort and strong skating from the players never fails in keeping Sting on top.
“Our girls can skate and as long as they skate they succeed,” said Lunn. She added that the path to the final was a smooth one for Sting, and the team was undefeated in the tournament going into the final against Calgary.
Calgary does not play in the same league as Sting, said Lunn, but the teams often face each other in tournament and other exhibition play. Lunn added that Calgary is easily Sting’s hardest competition and when the teams meet it is always a close game.
In the beginning of the final, Sting had a hard time establishing a foothold on the game, something Lunn attributed to nerves from playing the tough Calgary team. Lunn also said the penalties that plagued Sting throughout the game, but particularly in the first half, were due to nerves as well.
After scoring the first goal of the game about 10 minutes in, Central Alberta’s players started to lose their nerves quickly, gaining control of the game and dictating play.
“As soon as they relaxed, it all started to come together,” said Lunn.
Controlling the strong Calgary team was not easy though and a few minutes later Calgary evened the score with a goal of their own. Determined not to lose the lead, sting scored again in a few minutes to make the score 2-1 in favour of Sting at the end of the first half.
Sting carried its momentum into the second half of the game, scoring early in the half to extend their lead.
The rest of the game continued much as the first half had, with Calgary answering Central Alberta with goals of their own, but never quite able to catch up.
Keeping the lead throughout the entire game, Sting was ahead when the final buzzer sounded.
In league play, Central Alberta U16 AA Sting plays in a U19 A league. That means they play an age bracket above themselves, but a tier below.
Lunn said her team is at the top of the league and faces its stiffest competition from other AA tier teams.
As was demonstrated in the beginning of the Icebreaker final, confidence is the key issue Sting will have to overcome if the team wishes to stay on top of the league.
Lunn said the players have a tendency to shut-down when they are nervous going into a big game.
On the other hand, the players work well together, are well-conditioned, show strong effort and are great skaters.
“They are very tenacious,” said Lunn.
The Central Alberta Sting is made up of players from both Lacombe and Red Deer. The makeup of the team is fairly even between rookies and veterans with a few more returning players than new ones, said Lunn.
Lunn said there are only six teams in the province that are at the U16 AA level and those will be the teams Sting will face in provincials.