BY ZACHARY CORMIER
The Central Alberta Sting U19 AA ringette team returned from the Canadian Ringette Championships in London, Ontario last week sporting hardware.
The Sting, who wore the colours of Team Alberta after winning the provincial championships, came away from the national tournament with the bronze medal after 11 hard fought games.
“We lost in the semi-final to the gold medal winning team, so that was a little heartbreaking, especially when we out played them. We’re definitely the stronger of the two teams. But we ended up with bronze, so that was good,” said U19 CA Sting Head Coach Jackie Lunn after returning from the championships.
The championships, which ran from Monday through Saturday last week, featured the top 20 teams in Canada all vying for the national title.
“We ended up third. It was a very good feat, so the girls played well,” said Lunn.
The Sting faced a rigorous schedule over the course of the week, having to play two games per day over the course of the tournament, including a round robin seeding round in which they went undefeated to place first overall in their pool.
Over the course of the week, the Sting were led by a combination of players including Gillian Dreger, who had 33 points in 11 games to lead the tournament in scoring, and Kristin Demale, who had 14 points in the final seven championship games.
“We have well rounded scorers on our team, which is nice. They certainly pick up the slack for each other,” Lunn said.
In fact, four Sting players — Dreger, Demale, Shae-Lynn Baxter and Ashlynn Morrison — were in the top 20 in scoring for the tournament and Demale was named a tournament all-star.
“The first two days were just a round robin and then they re-tiered the top 12 to the competitive division and the bottom eight down to the consolation round. We were actually the top of every pool, we were the number one team going into Wednesday,” recalled Lunn, adding the next set of round robin games didn’t quite go as planned for her team.
“Wednesday we kind of fell apart a little.”
Central Alberta kicked off the second bout of seeding matches with a pair of losses, dropping a 4-1 decision to Quebec in the first game before falling 3-1 to Team Manitoba in the second.
They still ended up tied for fourth place, though, which was enough to put them in a really good position heading into Thursday and Friday.
“From that point we just kept on winning,” Lunn said.
Team Alberta went on a tear, defeating provincial rivals Calgary Red 11-4, Team Saskatchewan 6-3 to qualify for the quarter finals in which they downed Team Nova Scotia 4-1 before falling to Guelph 5-4 in overtime of the semi-final game.
“We played Guelph two years ago in the gold final at the U16 level, so there’s a little bit of rivalry there,” said Lunn.
Alberta managed to out shoot Guelph 34-23 in the game, but weren’t able to beat goaltender Samantha Gorgi.
“Our girls just couldn’t find the back of the net.”
Although the Sting did manage to force overtime, they just couldn’t pull off the victory as Anna Lawrence beat Sting goalie Grace Romansky just 16 seconds into the extra frame.
“That ended our chances of winning gold,” said Lunn, adding the team bounced back well for the bronze medal game when they defeated the Nepean Ravens 6-3 to clinch third place.
“Our girls were a little bit keyed up before the start of it. They were a little bit anxious. There were three of our girls that are going to age out, so that would have been their last U19 game ever. They all really calmed down their nerves, however, and played very strong.”
The Sting dominated the game and, led by Baxter, put up a trio of quick goals in the final 10 minutes to seal the deal.
“It was actually a really close game, for the most part. But we dominated play, though we didn’t dominate on the score board,” Lunn said.
Meanwhile, the U16AA Sting also made the trip out to London to play in the tournament but weren’t able to crack the final championship rounds, posting a 1-6-1 overall record.