One step from title repeat

ROB BRODIE -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 7:39 AM ET

Natasha Cote is bursting with Ontario pride.

A sentiment, she believes, can help carry the province's girls' ringette team to Canada Winter Games gold today in Whitehorse.

"We just have to go and play our game," the 18-year-old from Ottawa said as she looked forward to this afternoon's gold-medal game against Alberta. "Just do what we did to get this far, and play with all our heart."

Cote collected two goals and an assist yesterday as Ontario slipped by Manitoba 5-4 in one of two semi-finals at the Canada Games Centre. Alberta got past Quebec 5-3 in the other.

Ottawa's Ashley Rheaume added a goal and three assists for Ontario, the defending Canada Games champ.

"We've practised all year for this (final)," said Cote, a first-year health sciences student at the University of Ottawa. "Getting to the semi-finals was a big deal. Now winning it ... we've accomplished one of our biggest goals."

Retaining the Games crown is all that's left.

"We're so excited to play (today)," said Cote, whose parents are in the Yukon to watch her compete. "We know that, as a team, we're going to give it our all to win (the gold) again and make everyone in Ontario proud."

That might be the only thing that could top last Friday night, when Cote carried Ontario's flag in the Games opening ceremony.

"I was shocked," Cote said about being told she'd been chosen for the honour. "I had no idea. It was such a big surprise.

"I was very nervous (carrying the flag). So many people were watching and there were cameras everywhere. But it was so much fun."

Cote better get used to the attention. When Ontario's Quest For Life lottery releases its new series in the fall, she'll be one of the athletes featured on the tickets. It's a distinction Orleans short-track speed skater Ivanie Blondin has also enjoyed.

Blondin just missed a second Games gold last night, earning the silver in the women's 1,000 metres. She finished 0.253 seconds behind Quebec's Marianne St-Gelais.

In other events yesterday:

* Gloucester's Nicolas Bean won his second short-track speed skating gold medal of the Games, squeezing out a close victory in the men's 1,000 metres. Bean clocked 1:29.554 in the final, just edging past Quebec's Guillaume Blais-Dufour (1:29.802).

* Rachel Homan's Ottawa rink needed only seven ends to dispose of the Northwest Territories 14-0 in women's curling play. The Ontario reps counted four in the third and five in the seventh to end it early. Homan, third Emma Miskew, second Lynn Kreviazuk and lead Jamie Sinclair face Manitoba today in a battle of 4-0 rinks that will decide first place in Pool B.

* In women's compound individual archery, Amanda Smith-Millar of Winchester dropped her Round of 16 match to Nova Scotia's Nicole Theriault 111-108.


Videos

Photos