SARA ices tween AA team
Stealth first U14 AA team in St. Albert Ringette Association
By: Jeff Hansen
| Posted: Saturday, Jan 26, 2013 06:00 am
The U14 Stealth girls are skating in the right direction as the St. Albert Ringette Association’s first tween AA team.
“We’re doing OK actually. We’ve had some ups and had some downs, but overall it’s been a good experience,” said head coach Dwayne Schuttler.
The AA team was the vision of a group of parents to have St. Albert players at the AA level play at home instead of with the Zone 5 program.
Zone 5 draws players from the St. Albert, Spruce Grove, Leduc, Beaumont, Sherwood Park and Fort Saskatchewan regions.
“It was born out of so many St. Albert kids playing for the zone team. They made up at least half if not more of the zone team over the past few years so some parents brought it forward to the association, which in turn supported it,” Schuttler said.
A lot of our kids were travelling all over the greater Edmonton area for practices and games, and with ringette being so strong in St. Albert, the goal was to give our kids I guess more of an opportunity to stay at home and play AA ringette.”
The loss of St. Albert players left the Zone 5 AA tweens shorthanded.
“After the St. Albert team was formed, the Zone 5 team actually disbanded because they didn’t have quite enough players,” Schuttler said. “There was certainly some hard feelings but the idea from Ringette Alberta is to grow the AA participation. They would like to see a league formed, where we have a few northern AA teams. There is already a few down south, with two in Calgary (Excel and KOR) and one in central Alberta.”
The Stealth line-up of 15 skaters and one goalie is 3-4 in the U16 A division in the Black Gold League. The circuit features two St. Albert junior A teams – first-place 6-3 St. Albert No. 1 and fifth-place 3-3-1 St. Albert No. 2 – as well as Red Deer, Beaumont, Spruce Grove, Sherwood Park, Edmonton and U14 AA teams from the Edmonton Ringette Club and Zone 4.
“We’ve been competitive against all the junior A teams,” Schuttler said. “It’s a challenge but I guess it helps us develop stronger and more complete ringette players.”
More than 20 hopefuls tried out for the Stealth.
“There were certainly hard decisions to make,” Schuttler said. “We’re probably half first-year kids and half second-year kids and part of that was to have some sustainability for next year and give us the opportunity to grow the program."
The Stealth are built on speed and tenacity.
“When we’re playing our best we’re certainly playing as a team and we’re outhustling and we’re just being the more aggressive team on the ice. We find that, especially against the juniors, it’s a challenge for them certainly to match our speed,” Schuttler said.
The best showing by the Stealth in four tween AA tournaments was silver in Saskatoon, a 7-2 loss to KOR in the team’s first major event of the season.
The Stealth also competed at the Lacombe and Edmonton Woods tournaments and last weekend at the Calgary Esso Ring they lost 7-1 to Excel, blanked the B.C. Northern League 7-0 and tied the Winnipeg Magic 5-5 in the round robin. In playoff action they defeated the Central Alberta Sting 4-1 before losing 9-2 to Excel in the semifinals. Winnipeg went on to edge Excel 3-2 in the final.
“Both Calgary AA teams have had our number all year,” Schuttler said. “Overall, we’re probably .500 combined (in league and tournaments).”
The last tournament before provincials is the Pacific Ring next weekend in Richmond, B.C.
Provincials are Feb. 22 to 24 in Edmonton.
“We’re going to use the Pacific Ring and our final couple of league games to prepare for provincials,” Schuttler said.
The next home game is Feb.10 against U16 A Edmonton at 2:15 p.m. at Troy Murray Arena.
ICE CHIPS: St. Albert is hosting the U16 A provincials March 1 to 3 at Servus Credit Union Place.