Surge sweeps belle A provincials
St. Albert U19 ringette team will represent Alberta at westerns
Saturday, Mar 09, 2013 06:00 am
The tradition continues for the St. Albert Ringette Association at the belle A provincials.
The Surge duplicated Quantum’s championship victory at the U19 tournament and the St. Albert team is looking to do the same thing at westerns, March 28 to 30 in Regina.
“We have big shoes to fill,” said Al Henderson, head coach of the 39-4-1 Surge.
Last year Quantum won provincials with eight players in their last year of U19 eligibility while going 36-8-4 overall. This year the Surge were successful with only two returning players from the 2012 western gold medallists – forward Diana de Jong and defenceman Theresa Fraser.
“We exceeded our expectations from the start of the year. I knew we would be pretty good but I wasn’t expecting quite the success that we’ve had,” Henderson said of the Surge that racked up 356 goals and let in only 149 in 44 games.
“We’re a pretty young team. We’ve got six or seven first years, a few second years and only one third year (forward Isabella Tosto) and they gelled right away and supported each other throughout the year and that was really the key.
“It was also teamwork and the willingness by all the players to accept roles, roles that don’t always get your name on the scoresheet. All the players performed their roles at a consistently high level throughout the season.”
Last weekend in Medicine Hat the Surge outscored their opponents 36-13 in five wins to capture the provincial crown.
“I’m thrilled for the girls. They were able to get it done and they are incredibly excited to be going to westerns,” said Henderson, coach of last year’s U16 junior A provincial silver medallists from St. Albert.
In the final, forward Jordan Hodge exploded for five goals and Tosto potted a pair in the 7-4 win against Spruce Grove T.E.A.R.
“No question, Jordan and Isabella were on fire but without the strong play in our defensive zone, our forechecking pressure and ring movement, we would not be in this position,” Henderson said.
It was too close to call until the Surge snapped a 4-4 stalemate in the last period to pull away from their Black Gold League rivals.
“The final game fittingly had the two best teams that were in provincials and both teams are very evenly matched, so the game was a struggle from start to finish. Both teams’ goalies were excellent, but the difference was we were able to finish more of our opportunities,” Henderson said.
The Surge stormed into the final with victories of 7-2 against the Edmonton Exceed, 10-3 against the Calgary Bowview Broncos and 4-1 against the host team in pool play and in the semifinals defeated the Calgary Northwest Classics 8-3.
“By the fifth game both teams are pretty tired so (the final) was a battle of perseverance. You have to stay focused and battle through some nicks and bruises,” Henderson said.
The Surge (9-1) and T.E.A.R. (7-3) finished first and third, respectively, in league play and three of St. Albert’s losses this season were to Spruce Grove.
In tournament action the Surge won two titles and were the runners up twice.
The Surge will now focus their energies on winning westerns.
“It’s a big step for us. We’re not just representing St. Albert at westerns, we’re Team Alberta,” Henderson said.
The status of netminder Lauryn Girard for westerns was still up in the air at press time. Girard was ruled ineligible for westerns after playing for Team USA at the U19 world championship in December in London, Ont.
Players in western Canada are designated as AAA if they play internationally and are ineligible to play at westerns. However, players from eastern Canada who compete internationally are eligible to play at the eastern ringette championships.
The western and eastern championships are not governed by Ringette Canada and are two separate events.
Efforts were still ongoing to have Girard’s eligibility issue reviewed.
“If we don’t get a positive response we’ll have to move on,” Henderson said. “We’ll have to see if someone is willing to come to Regina and play for us. I’m hoping so. We’ll probably look in the association first (for a netminder) and failing that we’ll have to approach other teams.”