Ringette players from across the province took over Barnett Arena last weekend for the annual Ice Breaker Tournament, where 29 teams competed.
Teams from Fort McMurray all the way down to Lethbridge came to battle it out at Barnett in a 48 game tournament. Two teams were even invited from Saskatchewan (Regina Revolution and Saskatoon Thunder) to take part.
Lacombe’s Edge girls played well across all age groups, but the U14 team got to shine as the only Lacombe team to win gold. The U12A group won silver, U12B was awarded fourth, U16 won silver and finally, the U19 girls came in fourth.
“We had four really good games. The couple teams from Calgary were not as tough competition as I would have liked, but Beaumont and Drayton Valley both gave us some really good competition. We ended up winning gold against Drayton Valley – we won all four games,” said Bev Smith, coach of the U14 girls’ team.
“The girls played very well. Everybody that came up to me afterwards said that they were so impressed with the girls’ positional play and how well they performed as a team. That was our goal of the weekend – to really pull it together as a team and make sure that we were doing our plays and things like that so we could get ready for the Provincial Playdowns next weekend.”
Players travelled from Airdrie, Bow View, Calgary, Drayton Valley, Sherwood Park, Rockyford, Medicine Hat, Saskatoon and Regina to compete in the weekend tournament.
Smith said that she was proud of all of the Lacombe girls who took part in the tournament and that each team played to the best of their abilities.
“Everybody played very well. The U16 team and U12A both got silver. The U12B, who have been struggling this year, got fourth – that was fantastic for them,” she said.
“The U19 team came in fourth, but they invited all the hardest teams in the province and one from Saskatoon. They invited Rockyford and Fort Mac, who they knew were tough, and I thought that was a good representation of that age group. These tournaments really show that it’s a lifelong sport. They stay in it, and I think that’s great.”
Across the weekend, there was crowd participation and support. Smith said that fans usually accompany the younger girls’ games, so it was nice to see some support for the older girls as well.
She added that she was pleased with the recognition that ringette is getting within the community.
Smith also said the tournament ran very smoothly, thanks to the hard work of the tournament committee and collaboration of parents and volunteers.
The U14 team took gold in their final against the Drayton Valley Lightning with a score of 7-1. Smith said that the girls from Drayton Valley are often a great competitive team for her girls, so this win was hard won and she was proud of it.
“It was interesting enough because we had lost to them in league before, so I asked the girls to try to get the first goal and kind of pump themselves up and be ready for a tough game. Of course, Drayton Valley went out there right away and got the first goal and that was interesting, but the girls came right back at it,” she said.
“We did a little de-brief after, and the girls said that as soon as that goal went in for Drayton, they really had to say, ‘We need this and we want this’ so it was really the girls who made themselves pull through. At this time of the year, it’s so much them. We practice and practice and talk and talk and by the time we get to this part of our season, it is all about them and how badly they want it, and how they feel about their play that makes the game. It was a total team effort.”
The tournament was, all in all, a success for Lacombe Edge players. All teams made it to semi-finals in their division and a few went onto final titles.