A trio of Brandon-based ringette teams have jumped into the thick of Winnipeg Ringette League (WRL) action, with two teams already competing in tournaments to kick off the 2018-2019 season.
Rob Henderson, an assistant coach on the under-12 team and the director of publicity for the Brandon Ringette Association, says the numbers are looking strong for the three teams who play in the WRL.
“They probably range between 12 and 16 players per team,” he said.
The under-16 Brandon Blizzard opened the season with a victory and a tie. They upended the Royal Rage Hall team 7-1 on Oct. 27 then pulled out a 3-3 draw against the Bonivital Ringette Association (BVRA) Blaze.
Previously, the under-16 team took part in the BVRA tournament in Winnipeg, where they earned a silver medal. The Blizzard was down 4-1 at one point in the championship final, but clawed back only to lose 5-4. Henderson says the results are encouraging as this is only their second year in the WRL.
The under-14 Brandon Blizzard also took part in the same tournament. They finished with two wins and one loss through the round-robin portion of the meet.
The under-14 squad opened their season with two wins, blanking the Southwest Ringette Association (SWRA)/Corydon Comets 7-0, before earning a 7-2 victory over the Beausejour Ringers.
The under-12 Brandon Blizzard team opened their season in late October with a split decision. After suffering a 7-1 loss in the hands of the Steinbach Panthers, they bounced back with a 7-0 shutout win over the SWRA/Fort Garry Flyers. The under-12 squad is coming off a season where they finished first in the standings and won a bronze medal in the playoffs. They are the first Brandon ringette team to compete in the WRL playoffs.
“It was very exciting to see them perform at that level,” said Henderson. “We’ve also had some provincial medalists in the past year, so it’s really nice to see the players who have worked so hard over the years see their game develop.”
All teams will play a 16-game season, and all games take place in Winnipeg and the surrounding area. The lone home-action for the Blizzard is their annual tournament, which runs Nov. 9 to 11 at both the Kinsmen and Enns Brother Arenas.
“We have all three (Brandon Blizzard) teams taking part in the tournament, and we also have an under-10 division, though we do not have a team entering,” says Henderson, who added they will try and get some of their local under 10 players onto other teams for the tournament. “It’s very exciting because all their games are in Winnipeg, so this is the big chance to play at home and have lots of friends and family come out and see them.”
There will be four teams taking part in each age group, except for the under-12 division, which will feature six teams.
Brandon also features an under-10 team that combines with a Ringette4U squad, a program that allows players to practice and scrimmage in preparation for WRL play when they get older. Henderson said there are eight to 10 players on this squad, but registrations are still being accepted.
“It’s all part of working to build up the sport in Brandon,” he says.
For more information about the Brandon Ringette Association, visit their website at brandonringette.ca.