Double ringette duty

GLEN DAWKINS -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 7:04 AM ET

Andrea Ferguson is pulling down double duty at this week's Canadian Ringette Championships in Winnipeg.

Not only is the 21-year-old a forward and leader on the provincial champion Manitoba Stealth team in the open division, she is an assistant coach for the belle division Assiniboine Park Fort Garry Sixers.

"The best part of the whole week would be winning two golds," said Ferguson, a second year recreation studies student at the University of Manitoba.

Twenty-seven teams from all of the provinces except Newfoundland, P.E.I. and the territories will compete this week for national titles in three divisions: open (age 19 and over), belle (16-18) and junior (14-15). Games will take place at the University of Manitoba Max Bell Centre, Dakota Community Centre and St. James Civic Centre as well as three games tomorrow evening in Landmark.

The finals are Saturday at Max Bell Centre.

"The Belle team is really strong," said Ferguson, whose sister Ainsley plays for the Sixers. "They won (the national Junior title) two years ago with the same team so we have high expectations for them."

Second overall

Meanwhile, the Stealth were second overall in the inaugural season of the National Ringette League, winning one tournament and finishing second in three.

"Anything less than that would be disappointing," said Ferguson, who finished eighth in the NRL scoring race with 28 goals and 29 assists and was the team's nominee for MVP and Best Forward/Centre.

"We have a lot of talent. We just have to put it all together."

The Stealth also feature centre Danielle Hobday and defender Shelly Hruska, both members of the Canadian teams which won silver at the 2004 world championship in Sweden and gold at the 2002 world championship in Edmonton. Hobday finished fourth in NRL scoring with 40 goals and 31 assists.

Despite games being played at three local arenas, Ferguson is only being faced with a couple of scheduling conflicts between her duties as Stealth player and Sixers assistant coach. On Wednesday, the Stealth play Alberta at 10:20 a.m., at Dakota. Afterward, Ferguson has to head over to Max Bell for the Sixers game against Ontario at 1 p.m., before returning to Dakota for the Stealth's 3:40 p.m., game with Ontario.

"We only have two conflicts in the week which is pretty good but we will have to race from one rink to the other," said Ferguson, who will have to miss the Sixers game Thursday afternoon against Ontario at Dakota due to a Stealth game at the same time at Max Bell.

Ferguson played two years in Finland, a country which rivals Canada in its ringette prowess. Her team in Lapinlahti, 600 km north of Helsinki, won national championship gold in her first season and lost in the bronze-medal game in her second.

"(The idea of going back) is always in the back of my mind," said Ferguson. "I think about it a lot. But there was a point where you have to come back to reality and get on with your life."


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