The Northern Lights U16 AA ringette team, with 10 girls from Quesnel, returned from the provincial championships in Houston with a new monicker, Team BC.
“We knew the girls could do it, we were the better team,” coach Judy Young said.
“It isn’t often an entire team is able to bond so well, is so coachable and really just a great group of girls,” coach Don McMartin added.
“Their level of intensity and stamina are second to none.
“These traits, along with an intense desire to win, will get this team, or any team to wherever they want to go.”
The Northern Lights earned the provincial championship with a come-from-behind 6-5 overtime win against the Lower Mainland Thunder.
With parents cheering nervously, Jessica MacDonald had her teammates and coaches jumping for joy just over six minutes into the overtime period when her long shot got past the Thunder netminder.
“The hugs, shock and tears that went with the win is such a great moment for everyone that was there,” coach Melinda Moorhouse said.
“It was a great effort, the girls made us proud.”
The gold-medal match, the third meeting between the two teams at the tournament, had the Northern Lights trailing the Thunder 4-2 at the half, but the Lights picked up their game a notch in the second half of the game.
Netminder Colleen Moorhouse stopped everything fired her way and the defence continued to shut down the potent Lower Mainland offence.
Emily McMartin lit the lamp twice for the home side in the second half and Cheyann Newman added another to bring the the Northern Lights back to a 5-5 tie and set up the eventual overtime win.
“It was a tough battle, as we knew it would be,” McMartin said.
“But the girls came through and again, like in 2009, won the AA provincial championship.”
The format of the provincial championship, Mar. 5 – 6, was double knockout and the Northern Lights were thankful as they
lost their second match of the championship 7-6 to the Lower Mainland Thunder, following a 10-6 win in their first match against Thompson-Okanagan.
The loss against the Thunder meant the Northern Lights had to win their remaining games to have a shot at the provincial title.
And so it was Sunday morning, with their tournament lives on the line, the Northern Lights once again faced off against the Thunder for the second time in as many days, but this time with an air of confidence in their skates.
That confidence showed up early and often, in the second meeting between the two teams, as the Northern Lights put on a teamwork clinic to take a 4-1 lead into the second half, thanks to three goals by McMartin and a single by Sydney Kaleta.
With the defence giving up few scoring opportunities and solid goaltending from Moorhouse, the Northern Lights continued their push in the second half.
McMartin added another two goals and Newman and Justine Lamothe added singles to lead the Northern Lights to an 8-3 win and a trip to the gold-medal game.
Expecting stiff competition at the ringette provincials, the Northern Lights participated in three tournaments to hone their play prior to the provincial championships.
The Northern Lights began with a third-place finish in Calgary, then followed that up with a fourth-place finish at a tournament in Edmonton and a third-place finish at a tournament in Richmond.
Northern Lights coaches stressed the provincial championship was a team victory, including strong defensive play by MacDonald, Rebecca Milligan, Erin Wiggins and Saynia Pickering.
Netminders Moorhouse and Murdine Leboe were also sensational, Young said.
Team BC, which also includes three players from Prince George, one from Houston and one from Terrace, heads to Cambridge, Ont. March 25 – April 3 for the Canadian National Ringette Championships.
The team is looking for any sponsors who would like to help cover travel costs to the national championships. Please contact Melinda Moorhouse at 250-747-1797.