Three Terrace ringette players returned from an international trip inspired, sharpened in their game and with new friendships across the world.
Sarah McLeod said that despite tough competition and 1-6 win-loss record, it was awesome playing with the Northern Lights team in the Helsinki Ringette Festival over the holidays.
Cassidy Pavao and Jessica Dahl joined McLeod on the AA Northern Lights team made up of players from Prince George, Finland, Vancouver and Quesnel.
Playing in Sweden and Finland Dec. 28, 2015 to Jan. 6, 2016, the team lost its first six games to teams from Helsinki, Ontario, and Kelowna, but ended on a high note with a win against Helsinki Likko.
“I think we all played well; they were just better,” McLeod said of the competition.
“They were really good. Their passes were really nice and really precise… and they had different strategies than we would have,” she said.
Pavao agreed. “They made lots of short passes… They were fast! And they were just on you… if we tried to get open, they would just be there,” she said.
In the final game against Helsinki Likko, Pavao said the team hit the ice intent to take home a win.
Helsinki earned an early lead 3-0, but Northern Lights fought their way back up to a tie at 3.
After that it was back and forth – 4-3, 4-4, 5-4 – with the teams matching up at 6-6 in the game‘s final minutes.
“We were trying so hard to keep them out,” said Pavao.
With only three minutes left on the clock, the Northern Lights scored for a 7-6 lead and the win.
Pavao said that she had some close shots in that final game, hitting the crossbar on one shot and the post in another.
“They started calling me ‘Crossbar Cass,’” she laughed.
Earlier in the tournament, McLeod scored a goal against another Helsinki team.
She was forward with a Finnish teammate who was making an offensive assault.
A shot rebounded to the right side and McLeod and an opponent both went for the ring.
McLeod clinched possession and fired off a backhanded shot which flew past the goalie and landed back left in the net.
Goalie Jessica Dahl earned MVP for the team, saying it was worthwhile to see how other teams played and amazing to have the chance for a trip to Scandanavia.
When not on the ice, the team toured parts of Sweden and Finland.
In Sweden they visited the Vasa Warship Museum (named for the salvaged battleship on display there). They also walked the brick roads and looked at the history-rich buildings of Stockholm, stopping at the Stockholm Icebar where they sipped cool drinks from ice cups and toured the ice hotel in parkas.
They sang karaoke on an overnight cruise ship from Sweden to Finland, and enjoyed an impressive New Year’s firework display peppering a Finnish pop-style concert in the Senate Square in Helsinki, Finland.
They also joined crowds of Canadians to watch the Canadian National Ringette Team earn gold against Finland in the World Ringette Championship.
Pavao said watching the game and cheering with that crowd was her highlight of the trip.
“It was loud! There were actually lots of Canadians… more than half [of the arena],” she said.
One thing she will take away from the trip are new friendships with the three Finnish players who joined the Northern Lights team for tournament.
“They were really nice, it was really good to play with them,” Pavao said, adding that they exchanged instagram and snap chat numbers.
“We are keeping up with them,” she said.