HIGH ACHIEVERS: Stay-Safe Edition
Keeping Local Sport Spirit High During the Pandemic
By Martin Cleary
When Joan Mainwood was a mother with a couple of young teens in the early 1970s, she decided to join a movement, a sports movement.
It involved girls with bladeless sticks, rubber rings and ice time dedicated specifically to their cause, when they didn’t have to play outside.
Joan dedicated herself to ringette and since she did, it became part of the family fabric. Following the lead of Ottawa ringette pioneers Lois Kemp and Eleanor MacQuarrie, Mainwood became a coach, a manager and an executive member.
Her daughter Jennifer also experienced what was considered the girls’ version of hockey at the time and her son Dave pledged allegiance to ringette and half a century later he’s still a vital part of the sport.
As a 12-year-old hockey player, Dave decided to become a referee. Even though the refs didn’t get paid, he figured the more ice time he could get while officiating the girls’ games, he would become a better skater and hopefully a better hockey player.
Fifty years later, Dave is still serving as a ringette referee and not far behind that amazing achievement is his 45 years as a high-level coach in Gloucester-Cumberland.
And as Dave grew up, married Vicky, who also had deep roots in ringette, and they had daughters Jessica and Alyssa, ringette became part of his Mainwood family fabric. Dave met Vicky through ringette and her playing career took her to provincial and national championships before she turned to coaching.
Their two daughters had successful, start-to-finish playing careers in the Gloucester-Cumberland Ringette Association and have moved into coaching top-level competitive teams.
Their next step up the coaching level is the Canadian ringette championships, which are April 3-9 in Calgary, and Dave will be right there with them behind the bench. They guided their two respective Gloucester-Cumberland teams to recent Ontario AA championships and will wear Team Ontario colours at nationals.
Dave and Celine Leduc are co-head coaches and Alyssa is an assistant coach for the Gloucester-Cumberland U16AA team, while Jessica Boisvert and Dan Altherr share the head coaching duties for the association’s U19AA squad.
Dave, Jessica and Alyssa have attended numerous Ontario and Canadian championships over the years, but participating in the next nationals together as coaches will be a definite special moment.
“It means we have validation to keep talking about ringette at all family get-togethers for another month,” Jessica wrote, responding to a follow-up question from an earlier phone interview.
“But, more seriously, I think it says a lot about how amazing my mom and dad have been as our supporters and role models that both my sister and I have followed in their footsteps as elite players and now as coaches. We have learned so much from them as well as everyone else in our ringette family.
“I hope (and know) that they are proud that we have continued to volunteer and get involved in a sport we all love and are passionate about.”
Twin titles for G-C Devils
The 2021-22 season has been a difficult one for all Ottawa ringette teams. The health and safety restrictions triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic forced the Gloucester-Cumberland Devils squads to play only teams in the region and not attend their traditional tournaments throughout the province.
When it came time to play the Ontario championships, the Gloucester-Cumberland teams went in not knowing their opposition. But in both cases, they persevered, overcame deficits and succeeded in the end.
The Gloucester-Cumberland U19AA team trailed 3-1 and 5-3 in its championship game against Waterloo, but the Devils remained calm, rebounded to tie the game twice, forced overtime and won against all odds in that extra frame.
In the 10-minute overtime period, the Devils took several penalties and played shorthanded for the first eight minutes. The first opportunity the Devils had to return to five-on-five ringette, Julia Wilson scored to give Gloucester-Cumberland a 6-5 victory and the Ontario title.
“I joked with the girls. In terms of (ring) control, we didn’t deserve to win. But based on killing penalties, we did deserve to win,” rationalized Jessica, who is in her third year as head coach of the U19AA team and her eighth year of coaching overall.
Josiane Labelle sparked the U19AA Devils in the final with two goals and two assists, while Wilson, Danika Osborne, Taylor Forrest and Julia Emery had single goals. Wilson also contributed two assists. The Devils defeated Nepean 7-1 in their semifinal.
The top three U19AA scorers in the provincial championship were: Forrest, six goals, 13 assists for 19 points; Labelle 12-6-18; Laiya Evraire, Nepean, 10-7-17 and Wilson, 6-11-17.
Wild comeback for Devils U16s against old rivals
After playing 15 regular-season league games, the U16AA Devils won all five of their round-robin games at provincials and rallied from a 2-1 deficit after the second of four quarters to defeat Richmond Hill 6-4 in the semifinals.
Gloucester-Cumberland met West Ottawa Wild in the final, which was a rematch between the same two teams in the 2019 Ontario U14AA final. The Wild won that U14AA championship and the Devils may have had that on their minds when they fell behind 3-0 in the first five minutes of the U16AA final. But by the game’s midpoint, it was tied 3-3 and the Devils scored the only goal in the final two quarters for a 4-3 victory.
“In the first five minutes, we were shell shocked,” said U16AA co-head coach Dave Mainwood. “Either team was capable of winning, but we weren’t that bad. Once we scored our first goal, there was a sigh of relief.
“This group of girls played West Ottawa in the final two years ago. That weighed on their minds in the first five minutes. They have been two of the top teams the last number of years.”
Morgan Forrest scored two goals for the Devils, which also received one each from Maya Howard and Geneviève Robichaud, who added two assists.
Gloucester-Cumberland held the top four positions in the U16AA scoring race: Howard, 14 goals, 15 assists for 29 points; Forrest, 17-11-28; Robichaud, 10-15-25; and Adelle Desmarais, 4-16-20.
As the two Devils teams prepare for nationals, the head coaches are going with the flow.
“We’re keeping things simple,” Dave explained. “I want to keep their confidence high and make them realize this may be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
“From my experience as a player and coach at nationals, it’s such a long week,” Jessica noted. “It’s constant emotional changes. You don’t expect to have a top team going in. It’s how you manage your emotions and handle the stress in high-energy situations.”
Meanwhile, West Ottawa lost to Richmond Hill 2-1 in the provincial U14AA final. Maddy O’Neill scored the goal for West Ottawa, which defeated Nepean 2-1 in the semifinals on markers by Emily Barteaux and Olivia Binder. Mia Hayami counted the Nepean goal.
Barteaux was the second top scorer in the U14AA championship with 14 goals and six assists for 20 points, while teammate Arianna Hansma was third at 4-14-18.
Martin Cleary has written about amateur sports for 49 years. A past Canadian sportswriter of the year and Ottawa Sports Awards Lifetime Achievement in Sport Media honouree, Martin retired from full-time work at the Ottawa Citizen in 2012, but continued to write a bi-weekly “High Achievers” column for the Citizen/Sun.
When the pandemic struck, Martin created the “Stay-Safe Edition” to provide some positive news during tough times, via his Twitter account at first and now here at OttawaSportsPages.ca.
Martin can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com and on Twitter @martincleary.
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