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Synergy hosts U16 provincials

Junior A ringette championship starts Friday at Servus Credit Union Place

By: By Nicole Starker

  |  Posted: Wednesday, Feb 27, 2013 06:00 am

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In a fierce local battle, the St. Albert junior A Synergy netted the host spot at the Ringette Alberta U16 championship this weekend at Servus Credit Union Place.

The Synergy won two close games on Saturday against the St. Albert Enyo to become the host team.

The first game saw the Synergy fire the go-ahead goal with 15 seconds left on the clock, pushing the final score to 5-4.

In the second game the Synergy scored the tying goal with 17 seconds left and Shelby Samoil sealed the win, and the host team spot, with an overtime goal and a 7-6 final.

Head coach Frank Tosto says the close games illustrate just how competitive St. Albert’s two junior A teams are.

“We defeated a very talented team who could have easily challenged for a medal this weekend too,” says Tosto. “We give a lot of credit to that team and their coaching staff.”

Both St. Albert junior A teams play in the Black Gold League and battled through the Zone 5 playdowns. The Beaumont Bam clinched the Zone 5 championship after besting the Synergy in the final two playdown games. The loss to Beaumont set up the three-game series between the Synergy and Enyo.

The tight games against the Enyo on the weekend follow the Synergy’s scoring pattern this year that saw the team finish the regular season with a 26-14-2 record.

“A lot of our games have been close scores,” says Tosto. “Most of our games, even in losses, have one or two goal spreads.”

The head coach added there is always room for the players to improve and work on their game, but with one practice to go until provincials, Tosto and assistant coach Jim Findlay are narrowing the focus for the ladies.

“We want to continue trying to take advantage of our speed and moving the ring up and improving our transition through the neutral zone. And then obviously at this time of year, goals are hard to come by so we want to tighten up our defence and continue making it easy for our goaltender to see the shots and not having to have her make unbelievable saves.”

The Synergy is a second year team. A handful of players, like Sarah Ouellette and Erica Tosto, have provincial championship experience. The head coach says those new to this level of competition are really excited for the opportunity.

The coaching staff will be working with a shorter bench this weekend with Delaney Pater and Tianna Krieger out with injuries, but Tosto is pleased with how the team is looking heading into provincials.

“I think we’ve positioned ourselves really well. We’ve been in four tournaments and we’ve won two golds and one silver.”

The Synergy fell to the Enyo in Beaumont’s Brass Ring, taking home a silver medal and earned gold at the Edmonton Silver Ring. They racked up another gold medal at the Michelle Vandale Memorial Spirit of Winter Ringette Tournament in British Columbia’s Fraser Valley. The Lower Mainland competition was one of the highlights of the season for the team.

“Anytime you have the opportunity to get on a plane and travel to a tournament in another province and actually have a lot of success like we did, there’s no question that was a highlight,” Tosto says. “And probably the biggest highlight of the year was winning our game to get into the provincial finals, especially in overtime.”

Earning a spot at provincials is a win for the ladies, but a tough pool will challenge the Synergy this weekend. St. Albert will face the Red Deer Intensity, the Black Gold League champions, the Calgary championship winning Bow View Cito and the provincial defending champion Medicine Hat Insidious.

“Our goals are always to compete but at this point it’s to compete in provincials. I think we’ve positioned ourselves well to have a shot at the semifinals, which would give us an opportunity to either play for the gold or the bronze,” Tosto says. “If we’re peaking at the right time, we should be able to have some success this weekend, but the whole league is very tight so anything can happen.”

The ringette action kicks off Friday at 10:30 a.m. when St. Albert meets Red Deer.

Saturday the host team plays Calgary at 7:30 a.m. and Medicine Hat at 12 p.m.

Sunday the semifinals are 7 and 8:45 a.m., the bronze medal game goes at 12:15 p.m. and the gold medal match-up is 2:15 p.m.


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