I’ll be the first to admit I don’t know squat about ringuette. Imagine – I’ve been covering sports in this community for a decade and ringuette has been so far off my radar, I’ve written more stories on martial arts and weightlifting than the all-girls sport that’s been right under our noses all along.
I recently spoke with NDG Ringuette executive Glenn Barrett, who filled me in a bit on how the 2009-10 season went for his organization.
“I started as a dad who loved watching. The speed of the game is great and it relies much more on team play than hockey. The girls have to pass over the blue line, so no ringuette player can go on and end-to-end rush. You have to pass twice before you can score,” Barrett explained. “It’s really a very exciting game and more people should know about it.”
Barrett, who also coaches the association’s junior team, said the growth of girls’ hockey hasn’t hurt ringuette – what keeps it from growing is a lack of ice time.
“I don’t think girls’ hockey has hurt ringuette because they’re very different sports – once the kids play ringuette, they almost never want to leave it. They might play both, but they always stick with ringuette,” Barrett said. “But we can’t develop the girls as much as we’d like because we don’t have enough ice time.”
With about 17 games per level, except for the youngest, ringuette features six age groups ranging from four-to-eight-year-olds playing mosquito, through the 16-to-18-year-olds and the cadet level.
“With the junior team, we did exceptionally well this year. We finished tied for first, and in my memory this is the strongest team I’ve seen. The players improved exceptionally and really had great character. The girls had a great time this year,” Barrett said, adding that tournament play was a big part of his team’s success story this year.
“We played in a couple of tournaments as well, including one in Ottawa that opened the players’ eyes a bit about how different styles of the game are played. And we also played a big tournament in Ste-Julie and we went all the way to the finals before losing to Ste-Julie,” he said. “That was great because the girls learned how good they could be.”
The juniors came up short in their league playoffs before the wheels fell off at the provincials, but not all was lost.
“Our amazing goalie had to leave on a school trip and we had a lot of gaps on defence and at goal as a result. We didn’t go far in the provincials, but the girls knew they were better than the record showed,” Barrett said.
“The biggest thing here is that people need to know how amazing this sport is. It’s all girls playing together and they get to be in an all-girl environment. There’s no pressure from having to play with boys here,” he added.