The difference between playing for gold or bronze for the St. Albert Mission at the Ringette Alberta belle U19AA championship was Saturday’s mini-game.
The 2-1 loss to the Edmonton Elite in the 10-minute tiebreaker dropped the Mission into the third-place playoff after going 3-1 in the five-team round-robin draw.
“Those 10 minutes weren’t our best but all in all we had a really good weekend together,” said defenceman Lauren MacBeath after the Mission beat the Central Alberta Sting 11-5 for bronze Sunday in St. Albert.
The Mission, Elite and Calgary shared top spot in the round robin but on plus/minus Calgary advanced to the gold-medal final and a mini-game determined who would play last year’s champion.
The last round-robin game at provincials – 2-1 for Elite in overtime against Calgary – set the stage for the mini-game.
Forty-five minutes after the round robin ended the Mission and Elite faced-off for the second time that day, a 3-2 decision for St. Albert.
A rare goal by MacBeath, assisted by Brittney Kraychy and Madison Darda, opened the scoring early in the mini-game and the Elite replied with the equalizer with 5:17 to play and the winner with 3:12 remaining.
The Elite were penalized with 2:09 to go and the Mission were whistled for infractions with 1:36 and 30.2 seconds left on the clock.
The Mission rebounded with a convincing performance against the Sting to repeat as provincial bronze medallists.
“I always find it’s a lot better winning bronze than losing to get silver so we’re feeling good right now. It gives us a lot of satisfaction,” MacBeath said.
The Mission led 6-2 at the break in the bronze match. Lauren Henderson racked up four goals and four assists and her twin sister, Kate, potted a pair and added three assists.
Darda struck twice and Sarah Willette, Erica Tosto and MacBeath sniped singles. Siobhan Scantland also recorded three assists. In net was Lauryn Girard.
“It was really hard after losing the mini-game but this morning we were kind of a different team and we just came together. We really wanted to win so we played a lot more of a team game,” said MacBeath, a Grade 12 Bellerose Composite High School student.
Calgary went on to defeat the Elite twice by scores of 3-2 and 4-2 to carry the Team Alberta banner at the Tim Hortons Canadian Ringette Championships, March 25 to April 4 at Fort McMurray.
All five belle teams at provincials qualified for nationals.
Last year at nationals in Regina the Elite were silver medalists, Team Alberta (Calgary) won bronze, Zone 5 Grit placed ninth and the Mission finished 14th out of 18 teams in their first AA season.
“It’s the best of the best at nationals. A lot of provinces only send two teams,” said MacBeath, who played for the Zone 5 AA belles last year. “It’s a lot of tough games and very close games with lots of overtimes. Everybody just brings it.”
Every player in the Mission lineup has competed at the AA nationals in belle or U16 juniors.
“Having that experience really helps. A lot of the St. Albert players didn’t really have the experience and they didn’t know what to expect going into a week-long tournament,” MacBeath said. “We have a lot more experience going in now and it’s going to be a real good nationals for us.”
The Mission skated into provincials with an 22-8-1 overall record.
After suffering a 3-1 loss to Calgary in the tournament opener the Mission doubled Zone 5 4-2 and rallied to defeat the Sting 8-7 in OT after trailing 7-3 at the break. Sara DeRose knotted it at seven after Lauren Henderson lit the lamp three times in a row in the last period to give her four goals in the game. DeRose capped off the comeback with the OT winner on assists by Marie-Eve Gautier and Henderson.
“That was a very big game,” said MacBeath, 17. “There is a lot of stress (to win provincials) to be Team Alberta but our coach Martin (Gautier) actually calmed us down in that game by saying, ‘We’re all going,’ and we played really well together after that.”
The junior U16AA Mission finished 2-2 at provincials in St. Albert.
Calgary Hype blanked the Edmonton Elite 4-0 for gold and Calgary Pursuit downed Zone 5 Pack 2-1 for bronze.
All six junior teams at provincials advance to nationals in Fort McMurray.
In pool A the Mission lost 6-4 to the Pursuit and needed OT to knock off the Elite 7-6 with Megan Shigeta and Mackenzie Howard combining on the game winner.
In the quarter-finals the Mission fell 3-2 to Zone 5 and in the fifth/sixth game it was 5-3 Mission over the Central Alberta Sting.
The Mission were 24-6-3 going into provincials.
Last year the Mission placed fifth at provincials and 13th at nationals in Regina in the team’s first AA season.
The tween U14 AA Mission also went 2-2 at provincials in St. Albert to finish fifth out of six teams.
All six teams head to westerns, March 25 to 28 in Calgary.
The Central Alberta Sting posted a 6-5 win over Calgary 212 for gold and Calgary Crossfire defeated the Edmonton Elite 8-4 for bronze.
The Mission secured fifth place with a 7-1 victory over Zone 5 Edge. Vail Ketsa’s hat-trick and Abby Katt’s three assists led the attack.
The Mission were coming off a 5-2 loss to Calgary 212 in the quarter-finals. A 2-0 lead at the break slipped away during a rash of penalties in the last period.
In the pool A round robin the Mission lost 3-1 to the Sting and overpowered the Elite 7-1.
The Mission were 17-15-4 overall prior to provincials.
ICE CHIPS: Visit www.ringettealberta.com or www.stalbertringette.com for the AA provincial results.