By Chris Jones/The Oshawa Express
Winning seems to come naturally to the Oshawa Storm U19A ringette squad, as they recently brought home their third gold medal of the season.
After winning their third tournament of the season in Whitby, head coach Colin Deans says the team is feeling confident.
“They have visions of qualifying for Easterns, which means they have to be the top placed team in Ontario when they go to provincial championships,” says Deans. “That’s a pretty lofty goal, and I don’t believe any team in Oshawa at this age level has ever done that before.”
He says the team looked back over the past 30 years to see if an Oshawa team at their level has ever qualified before, but they haven’t been able to find anything.
The team’s first tournament win was in Oshawa at the 2019 Memorial Tournament in November.
The Storm “ran the table,” going a perfect 5-0 in the tournament, with four round robin wins, which gained them an automatic bye into the final.
“That was in November, so it really showed the team was coming together well,” says Deans. “It showed that our preparation for the season went very well.”
The second tournament was a mere two weeks later in Nepean, with Deans noting the team hasn’t traditionally participated in this specific tournament.
“We normally go into the Ottawa region in February, but because Ottawa’s running the provincial championships in March, we decided not to go back-to-back,” he explains.
Deans notes the team “tripped up” once in the round robin, where they lost to Gloucester-Cumberland.
Because of this loss, they didn’t get a bye and went into the final as the away team, facing Gloucester-Cumberland once again.
“They turned the tables,” says Deans. “So they learned from their first game, and they won the gold medal game fairly convincingly in Nepean.”
Finally, after an extended break between tournaments where the squad only saw league games, they headed to Whitby during the first weekend of 2020 for the city’s 41st annual Ringette Tournament.
“It had been a while since they had stepped on the ice for tournament play,” says Deans.
He notes opponents had been “closing the gaps” against the Storm during league play.
Teams they had early season success against were stepping back out on the ice and either tying or beating Oshawa.
But the Storm turned things around in Whitby.
“They had a great tournament again in Whitby,” he says. “They had one round robin loss… just by a goal, but it was enough for them to qualify for the semifinals.”
They then breezed past Sudbury to take on West Ottawa in the final, who they shutout 4-0.
Deans believes the team has all the right pieces in place to reach their goal of reaching the Eastern championships.
“It’s a good blend of a team… they have a nice blend of experience to go in with the youth… so I think they’ve got all the right pieces to do it for sure,” he says.
To him, the team is also always learning from their mistakes and successes.
“They don’t take a shift off, so if they go out there and they see something on the ice they talk about it on the bench during the game… they adapt very well and they continue to change up their game to [match] their opponents,” says Deans.
Deans hesitates to single out anything he wants his team to work on.
“It’s the small stuff, right? That’s what practices are for,” he says. “In general, it’s about keeping focused. The challenge at this age level is they’re all getting ready for university, or they’re in university or college, they’re working, so trying to find a place where ringette fits can be a tough one.”
The team will head to Guelph in February for a tournament and then provincials in March.
The team currently sits in second place with 18 points in 12 games, only one point behind Forest and Waterloo who share the grip on the first place position.