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Northeast ringette team preparing for battle

It might not seem like the weather of the Ontario Winter Games, but that hasn't stopped the wheels from being set in motion. The bi-annual event is set for Collingwood in March of 2012, prompting many sports to begin the advance preparation.

In the case of ringette, it means that the "AAA" program returns in earnest as three Challenge Cup tournaments will lead up to the Winter Games, bringing together six regional teams from across the province.

Northeast Region head coach Yvan Belanger from North Bay brought together top end U-19 talent from all active ringette organizations in the north - West Ferris, Sudbury, Sault Ste. Marie, Timmins, Valley East, Iroquois Falls, Walden, and Kirkland Lake - staging open tryouts in April and May.

In the end, 18 young ladies were selected to the roster, including six from the Sudbury region. With the lineup in place, the crew gathered for summer training camps in Sault Ste Marie in June and North Bay last month.

“I’m very impressed to see how hard all the players worked during each camp,” Belanger stated. Joining Belanger in working with Team Northeast are assistant coaches Bruce Graham, Joe D'Angelo and Lucie Poulin (goalie coach), manager Marta Merla, Lively native Jena Kiviaho (trainer) as well as publicity/communications/sponsorship representatives Susan Weiskopf and Andrew Hopkins.

The squad will continue their workouts, getting ready for the initial Challenge Cup in Ottawa in October, with future events slated for St Mary's (November) and Ajax (February).

The team was recently presented with a sponsorship cheque of $ 500 from Investors Group in North Bay, in partnership with the True Sport Foundation.

"Investors Group is committed to the promotion and development of this important level of play for ringette players aged 19 and under" said Weiskopf, a consultant with the company and also President of the Northeast Ringette Association.

The 2012 Ontario Winter Games roster for the Northeast ringette team included local products Sarah Ciammaichella, Asha Gosselin, JamieLyn Larose, Désirée Leclair, Cassidy McAuliff and Karine Caron, West Ferris representatives Frédérique Bélanger, Samantha Odorizzi, Venessa Odorizzi, Olivia Parker and Katrina Twaddle, as well as Haley Mantha and Caitlyn Ranger from Timmins, Riley Jo Linklater and Meggie Kirkwood from Sault Ste Marie, Atikokan siblings Amy and Emma Cunningham and Cheralee Trepanier from Iroquois Falls.

Northern Ontario AAA Hockey League