Although the Northwest Ontario all-star ringette team lost 9-2 to a Thunder Bay ‘AAA’ senior team there Sunday, team member Stacey Angus of Stratton said the game was beneficial to the squad as it gears up for the Ontario Winter Games.
As a prelude to the Winter Games, slated March 5-8 in Peterborough, the 17-member Northwest squad also will travel to North Bay on Jan. 15-18 to compete in the six-team Ontario Challenge Cup tournament.
“We don’t have any more practices until we play in North Bay so it was good that we got together to play [last weekend]," said Angus, who also plays for a "Belle” division team in Emo.
“You can tell some of the girls were tentative [against Thunder Bay],” she added.
Sunday’s exhibition game—and two hours of practice time—was an important step for the Northwest team as they try to gel before the Winter Games, said Angus, noting the all-star squad is comprised of players from Thunder Bay to the Manitoba border.
And the vast distances players must travel to get together for games and practices puts the team at a distinct disadvantage when competing against ones from southern Ontario.
Still, Angus, 17, has had past success playing against teams from outside Northwestern Ontario, capturing the gold at the provincial ‘A’ championships in Waterloo last March as a member of the under-18 regional team.
Angus, who was joined by fellow district players Shannon Hagarty and Missy Gate on that team, tallied a goal and two assists in a 9-8 overtime win against a team from Pembroke.
But that provincial-winning team was disbanded for this season (for a variety of reasons), leaving Angus as the lone player to represent Rainy River District at a provincial level.
She said she expects the level of play at the Winter Games to be equal to that of last year’s provincial championship.
“It’s a different level playing there, and it’s definitely a step above playing here," she stressed. ”You have to be so much more on the ball.
“You don’t have much time to think," she added. "You have to be quicker or [the opposition] will just run you over.”
Tedda Hill, coach of the Northwest all-star squad, feels Angus has the quickness necessary to play at the provincial level.
“She is a scorer, an aggressive checker, and because she is so quick and very fast, she is so good at back-checking,” said Hill, adding all but two of her players have provincial-level experience.