By Phi Trinh
It was their 8th game in 4 days, but the host Nepean Ravens had waited long enough – their entire careers – for the chance to win a provincial ‘AA’ ringette championship, and they weren’t about to let the opportunity slip away.
“The team was comprised of many excellent athletes who, unfortunately, up until this year, had never been able to be successful enough to make the final step and win a provincial title,” notes Lary Allen, head coach of the under-16 team.
With a home crowd behind them on Mar. 12 at Walter Baker Arena, the Ravens exploded out of the gate to build a 4-0 lead before the championship game was 10 minutes old, demoralizing Central Whitby into submission by a final 5-2 count.
“We were all pumped up, we were all ready to go,” signals Kira Begin, the tournament’s co-leading scorer with 26 points.
“We wanted to have a quick start because once we got ahead, the other team started to panic,” adds team captain Emma Kelly.
Kelly scored the final 2 goals of her astonishing tournament-best total of 19 in the championship game, inspired by the big blue crowd behind them.
“We wanted to show everyone in Nepean that we are the best team,” Kelly explains. “Our secret was to stay positive through the entire game and cheer for the little things. When we got to the (intermission): we’d cheer, somebody stabs the ring: we cheer, breakouts: we cheer.”
Despite being at home, the team acted a bit like they were on the road by eating together at the end of each day and holding team meetings throughout the tournament.
“It seemed to pay off on this occasion,” highlights Allen, calling the championship contest the team’s best game of the year. “Everything came together. Everybody stepped up and did their job.”
Allen celebrated the 12th provincial title of a storied 25-year ringette coaching career. He was assisted by Jessica Crouch and Kira Begin’s older sister Sarah-Lynne, who pulled double-duty come the Mar. 27-Apr. 1 Canadian Ringette Championships in Leduc, Alta., coaching for Nepean and playing for the Ottawa Ice in the National Ringette League division finals.
After scoring a tight playoff series victory over local rival Gloucester to book their trip to nationals, Ottawa finished 7th at the nationals. Gloucester’s Jasmine Leblanc and Ottawa’s Jenna McBride were named the NRL’s top goaltender and defender respectively.
Nepean went 5-1 in the round robin at nationals and then downed Regina 5-4 before falling 4-3 in overtime to the eventual Canadian champs from New Brunswick in the quarter-finals. Kira Begin was a 2nd-team tournament all-star, while defender Olivia Simpson made the 1st team.
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