Manitoba belles go for gold

ADAM WAZNY -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 12:05 PM ET

The last Manitoba team standing is going for gold today. Chelsea Braun scored two goals as the provincial champions beat Ontario 4-2 in the Belle Division semifinal of the 2005 Canadian Ringette Championships at the Max Bell Arena last night.

MANITOBA 4 ONTARIO 2

"They attained the goal that they set for themselves at the start of the tournament," a proud head coach Brian Timmerman said of his club afterward.

The semifinal was a far cry from the round-robin affair the clubs had on Thursday, when the local side hammered the visitors 11-4. Ontario kept the semifinal close before Braun scored her second goal of the game with nine minutes left to seal it for Manitoba.

Braun admitted her club was tentative in the early stages of the game.

"We were a little nervous, it usually happens," she said. "We always have a little hesitation (at the start), then we pick it up."

Sheena MacDonald and Ashley Lutz also scored for Manitoba.

Manitoba will now face Alberta in the final, which is scheduled to start at noon. Alberta beat Manitoba 3-2 in round-robin play on Thursday.

"Alberta is a fabulous team," Timmerman said. "(They) deserve to be there, just like we do, and they are a very worthy opponent.

'PAYBACK'

"Our girls are looking forward to the opportunity for a little payback."

And another gold medal.

Two years ago in Waterloo, Ont., this Manitoba team won the national title as juniors.

The players now want to win it as belles.

"We have nothing else on our minds except the gold medal and we're not going to stop at anything until we get it," Lutz said.

The title game is sandwiched between the junior final (featuring Quebec and Alberta at 10 a.m.) and the open championship game (Alberta versus Ontario at 2 p.m.).

All games are at the Max Bell Centre.

The host team in the belle division, consisting mostly of girls from the Interlake Ice club, finished strong by winning their final three games, but still ended up tied for fourth with a 3-4 record.

As for the four other local clubs participating in the championships, things did not go so well.

Picked by many to win a medal, the Manitoba champions in the open division (19 years old and older) fell just one win short of qualifying for yesterday's semifinal game against Ontario.

Instead, the Ontario wild card team -- which beat Manitoba 6-3 in the round robin -- finished third.

The open hosts wrapped up their CRC with a 1-8 record.

The provincial junior champs and the host club wrapped up their CRC on a disappointing note, too, finishing tied for seventh place (with a 2-6 record) in the nine-team division.

Timmerman said there was no pressure of being the lone Manitoba team left in the tournament.

"I'm happy that we're able to have one Manitoba team in the gold medal game, so the fans can at least come out and support one of the local teams," he said.


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