Under-16 team wins province's first-ever medal at Canadian ringette championships
It was a week to remember for the P.E.I. Wave under-16 team.
Not only did the Wave become the first team to win P.E.I.’s first-ever medal in a national ringette championship at any level, they also took their passionate fans on one heck of a six-day ride on home soil. That journey concluded late Saturday morning as the Calgary Core posted a well-deserved 5-1 victory over the Wave in the gold-medal game.
“It’s really incredible we came out with a silver medal,” said Wave player Delaney Roche of Souris. “(P.E.I.) has been trying for 41 years to get a medal and we finally got one. It’s just great.”
Wave head coach Francois Caron of Summerside said the silver-medal performance is “pretty special” for the players and provincial program.
“Quietly, I thought this team could do something, but I didn’t share it with too many people,” said Caron. “It’s a special group of kids who have worked really hard, we really worked on the areas we needed to improve and we’ve seen that growth throughout the year.
“Quietly, in the back of my mind, I was hoping maybe top eight, get in a (quarter-final) game and see what happens. But sports is an interesting thing, you get on a roll sometimes, everyone starts feeling confidence and (Friday) night in that semifinal game (a 6-4 win over West Ottawa), I have never seen the group of 17 that we have play as well as they did.
“Every one of them just did their thing. It was so gratifying as a coach to watch.”
Overall, the Wave completed the six-day tournament with an overall record of 7-3 (won-lost).
“It proves that just because we are a little Island it doesn’t mean that we can’t get medals,” said Delaney, 15. “We are really strong and we proved that.”
Wave goaltender Kenzy Hawkins of Montague recalled a conversation the team had with Caron.
“Back early in the season our coach, Fran, said that he hoped for us to make it to a gold-medal game (of a tournament),” continued Hawkins, 15. “We were like, ‘Yeah, I don’t think we ever would.’
“Now here we are, we are still shocked. Four games ago we thought we would never (get this far).
“It’s crazy to get this far and get silver. To make history for P.E.I. is just amazing.”
Raised sport’s profile
The Wave did more than just win some ringette games. They raised the profile of the sport in Canada’s smallest province.
“I don’t know how many people were here (Saturday), but there were probably 1,500 people,” said Caron. “You look up and see that for a ringette game in your home community where we have an association with 60 kids playing, it will do an awful lot for our program. It was a real special week.”
The big crowd for the gold-medal game at Credit Union Place in Summerside did not go unnoticed by the players.
“It was really loud, which is something we are not used to because we don’t play in rinks this big back home,” said Calgary’s Callie Dawes. “It was a lot of fun and it was easy to get caught up in it, but I don’t think we did. That was important for us.”
Hawkins added: “I didn’t expect to see so many people out in the stands. There were many P.E.I. ringette teams who came out to support us, and it was great to have them all here behind us.”
As the week went on, the atmosphere at Wave games grew.
“Our first game the other team’s fans had drums, so all our parents went out and bought buckets and started hitting on those,” said the Wave’s Andrea Caron, 15. “We got a lot of momentum that way.”
Along the way, the Wave earned respect of their opponents while proving they can compete with the best teams in Canada.
“It was actually great to play P.E.I. in the final,” said Core head coach Caley Mineault. “They had a great week and definitely had some magic this week, so the atmosphere was fantastic.”