Ring in the New Year at the Canadian University Ringette Championships

By Ben Hamill - December 17 2014

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The Canadian University Ringette Championships will be held from December 28 to December 31. The tournament will be hosted by the University of Calgary Dinos Ringette Club. The games will be played at the Markin MacPhail Centre, Winsport Arena A in Calgary. The round robin games are scheduled for Sunday and Monday, December 28th and 29th. The quarter-finals and semi-finals are on Tuesday and the Bronze and Gold Medal games are on Wednesday. Everyone is welcome to come watch and cheer the players on as university teams from across Canada compete for the Gold Medal. Admission is free and there will be several prize drawings for spectators at every game.

Ringette is a fast-paced game similar to hockey but with several vital differences that separate the two. Ringette was developed in 1963, in North Bay, Ontario primarily for girls, as a distinct alternative to hockey. The “puck” in ringette is a ring, not made of galvanized rubber as the puck is. One object of ringette is to “catch” the ring with one’s stick. Players can carry the ring with their stick but the rules keep “ring handling” to a minimum so skating and passing become more prominent skills. The violence inherent in hockey is greatly muted in ringette making it an ideal sport for girls and women. Because the ring is constantly being passed and the players are moving to become open, even more so than in hockey where power shooting is dominant, ringette has been called “the fastest game on ice”.

Ringette is now extremely popular in Canada as more than 50,000 women and girls are involved from coaches to players. Ringette’s popularity has already spread to hockey-rich countries such as Russia, Finland, France, Sweden, and the U.S. (of course). Representatives from ringette associations have demonstrated the game in many other countries as well, so ringette is sure to grow even faster in the years to come! There is already an Internatonal Ringette Tournament. Certainly, it is just a matter of time before ringette takes its place as a major internatinal sport!

Since ringette has always been a far less violent alternative to hockey, the associations that organize ringette teams and leagues try as much as possible to be inclusive regarding age and skill level. There are ringette programs for absolute beginners, working through many skill-based groupings to the highest grouping, AAA.

As recently as the late 1990’s there were no university-level ringette teams. A mere 15-20 years ago three university teams were formed, at St, Boniface College, and the Universities of Winnipeg and Manitoba. Today there are close to 30 university-level ringette teams! Some teams are more competitive than others so, at some universities that have a highly-competitive team, there may also be a team organized just for the fun of it. Players attest to the pleaure they get from playing such a fast game without the concomitant violence that is so pervasive in hockey.

You can get much more information about ringette, including how to set up a team, at canadianuniversityringette.ca. As you might expect, there are many ringette videos available on YouTube. If you have never seen ringette before, at the very least watch a few clips on YouTube. You will be amazed and thrilled by the skating and passing skill of the players!

If you live in or near Calgary or can get away for a few days, come watch Canada’s university women vie for the Canadian University Ringette Championship. Mark your calendars for December 28-31.