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Another bump in the numbers at Greater Sudbury Ringette Tournament
2023-11-28
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The intensity of the sporting rivalry between teams representing Sault Ste Marie and Sudbury has been very well documented over the years.

Whether it be in the form of the iconic battles between the Greyhounds and the Wolves, or the gridiron classics between the Steelers and the Spartans and their underlings, or drifting over to the various high-school venues in which institutions from both cities excel, athlete motivation is typically the least of the worries for the coaches of any of these teams.

And based on some of the action from the Greater Sudbury Ringette Tournament this past weekend, one can certainly add the sport that originated in northern Ontario to this mix – albeit with a bit of a twist, given that so many of these youngsters will gather together when forming regional teams and the like.

“A lot of us play together on different teams so we try not and argue about stuff on the ice – but it can be tough when we are playing against each other,” acknowledged Sault Ice Hawks forward Kylie Beland, her team having beaten the Greater Sudbury North Stars 6-2 to claim the U14 A banner.

Beland opened the scoring with an early power play marker, but Sudbury would draw even, also with the man advantage as Mia Michaud went five-hole to tie the contest at 1-1. But a string of three straight markers from the Ice Hawks, with Mikayla Farelli squeezing a goal between a pair from Sophie Marcellus put Sault Ste Marie up 4-1 by the end of the period.

Marcellus’ second strike, on a lovely counter-flow drop pass from Beland that had North Stars defenders and the goalie moving in the opposite direction was a thing of beauty to behold – and a testament to a friendship and chemistry forged over time.

“That’s just me and her (Marcellus) flowing together,” said Beland with a smile. “That’s just what we usually do; we just go with it. We started the same year and have played all the way through.”

In fact, for as much as offensive zone ringette possessions can bear some resemblance to a basketball team running a set play, there remains much that is non-scripted, apparently. “I am just trying to get goals – make the goalie move and get the opportunity to score,” explained Beland.

“Most of it is us trying to be creative and set our own plays.”

Rounding out the scoring in the second frame were Cameron Galizia and Beland for the winners and Zoe Charbonneau, who buried a nifty little backhand for Sudbury.

As the GSRA Tournament continues to grow, it continues to attract more and more out of town teams, entries from further and further away. The 2023 event introduced a U18+ university division for the very first time, with the Guelph Gryphons downing the Carleton Ravens 7-3 in the final of the five team bracket that also included the Nipissing Lakers, Trent Excalibur and host Laurentian Voyageurs.

“It’s fun to play at home, play in front of your friends from school and even have some family that will travel to watch you play,” suggested Laurentian five year veteran and team captain Dominique Baldasaro, a North Bay native who is following up her BSC in Psychology with a masters in Indigenous Relations.

“And it means so much to have these younger girls come to our games and look up to us. Our program (L.U. varsity team) is helping out with Learn to Skate in Sudbury. It’s nice to give back and be role models for the younger players.”

Though the Voyageurs would drop all four of their matchups on the weekend, Baldasaro was anything but down as we chatted about the experience. “It’s a matter of being realistic,” said the 22 year-old who competed with the West Ferris Ringette Association (home of Sam Jacks, the man who created the sport) throughout her youth.

“Being a smaller school, we might not have the same amount of girls that are trying out. I think we want to be positive and grateful that we are still able to play at this level. That’s the important thing.”

It’s also a sentiment that was shared in so many ways by Trent assistant coach Kristin Johnston, now in her second year with the team. “With Trent, there is a need for the university team in part because there is no ringette locally,” said the lifelong player. “This offers a different type of ringette competitiveness for our girls while they are in school, representing their university.”

While attracting more and more quality teams to this event is clearly a good thing in so many ways, it did no favours to the local entries, shutout in their hunt for medals. The Timmins Tornadoes captured both the U16 A banner (10-3 win over Waterloo WildfireHailey Plouffe and Lily Mackenzie with two goals each) and the U18+B division as well (7-0 vs Sudbury – Caitlynn Ranger with the hat trick).

Their neighbours slightly to the east enjoyed even more success, with Iroquois Falls Ringette prevailing in no less than three divisions. A three goal effort from Noémie Cousineau and a pair of markers from Amaya Come lifted the Falls past Walden 6-2 in the U16/U19 B final while Audrey Audet netted a pair to help lift her team past the Sault U14B Ice Hawks in the gold grouping.

The U12 B – Green final was a ton of fun for fans of high scoring affairs as Iroquois Falls slipped past Walden 8-6, with Lexi Proulx and Brandyn Shea finding the back of the net twice each for the winners. Callie Hryciw (2), Jovie Scharf (2) and Blayklee Pearson replied in a losing cause for Walden.

The U12 B – Gold hardware would be doled out to West Ottawa (7-2 over Walden), with Sault Ste Marie triumphant in U12 A (6-5 over Gloucester-Cumberland) and the Ice Hawks taking both sides of the bracket in the FUN level of play.

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