Ringette league extends reach in Ottawa

ROB BRODIE -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 12:35 PM ET

Look no further than the nation's capital for proof the National Ringette League is in a serious growth mode.

The Ottawa region, a ringette hotbed, is now home to a pair of teams in the NRL -- the returning Gloucester Devils and expansion Ottawa Ice.

In all, five new teams have been added. Factoring in three others that are dormant for this season, membership in the loop has grown from 17 to 19 teams.

They're split into four divisions -- Quebec, Ontario, Central (Manitoba) and West.

NRL president Jim Dawson of Edmonton said the league, now in its second official year, fills two important needs.

"It allows us to showcase the sport throughout Canada," he said. "And it also encourages players at the high end of the sport to continue to play."

Dawson said the new Ottawa team is an example "of the increased enthusiasm" for the league and ringette itself.

An added benefit -- a higher level of preparation for Team Canada leading into the world championship.

"The girls from Team Canada were the strongest proponents of this concept," said Dawson.

Conference winners will meet in an April 2 championship game in Montreal. Dawson said conversations have been held with TSN about televising the match.

Meanwhile, it hasn't been the strongest of starts for the two local entries. The Devils were 0-2 heading into a weekend series with the Richmond Hill Lightning, while the Ice are 0-5 in their inaugural season. They play three games on the road against Montreal-area teams next weekend.

The Devils took a major player hit in the off-season, losing two Team Canada members -- Barb Bautista and Kim Beach -- off their squad. Bautista now suits up for the powerhouse Edmonton WAM! Beach, who finished her studies at Queen's University, also headed west to begin a career as a physiotherapist. She's now with the B.C. Reign.

The expansion Ice also snagged a former Devil, recruiting 2004 NRL rookie of the year Katie Lugg away from their cross-town rivals.

Key new additions for the Devils include forward Katie Allen of Carleton Place and goaltender Sadie Bulger of Ottawa.

Both local teams' rosters include several players with Canada Games and national championship experience.

For more information on the league, including schedules, stats and player profiles, log on to www.nationalringetteleague.ca.

ACROSS THE POND: It's overseas time soon for two-time Canadian pairs champs Valerie Marcoux of Gatineau and Craig Buntin of North Vancouver, B.C. They're in the field for the Trophee Eric Bompard, a Grand Prix series event which begins Nov. 17 in Paris. Marcoux and Buntin were bronze-medal winners at Skate Canada last week in St. John's ... Ice dancers Siobhan Karam and Joshua McGrath of the Minto Skating Club have been handed a second senior GP assignment. They'll compete in the Cup of Russia, Nov. 24-27 in St. Petersburg. They finished 10th at Skate America in their GP debut.

GAMES GANG: Three Ottawa Lions athletes are part of the 38-member team Athletics Canada is sending to the Games of La Francophonie, Dec. 7-17 in Niamey, Niger. The squad includes Canada Summer Games sprint star Esther Akinsulie of Ottawa, along with Ottawa's Derek Watkins and Caroline Larose of Cantley. The Lions' Hugh Conlin is the team's sprint/hurdles coach.

SUPER STOPPERS: Ottawa Fury goalkeeper Taryn Swiatek, a University of Calgary student, has been named to the Canada West conference's women's soccer first all-star team ... Kanata's Jessica Hussey, a senior 'keeper at James Madison, was a second-team selection to the all-Colonial Athletic Association team.

AROUND THE AMATEUR SCENE: Two Gale Kerwin Boxing Club competitors won gold medals in St. Catharines last weekend -- Rosie Thomas (54 kg) and Wendy Lee Baird (60 kg) ... Jill Henselwood of Oxford Mills shares the lead with Chris Pratt of Belfountain in the Canadian League World Cup show jumping standings. The final event of the season is Wednesday at the Royal Horse Show in Toronto.

rob.brodie@ott.sunpub.com


Videos

Photos