Carleton ringette wins bronze at nationals

The Carleton Ravens ringette team took home bronze at the 2018 University Challenge Cup (UCC) at the University of Guelph from Dec. 27-31.

The team went 5-1 through the round robin stage before falling to the University of Ottawa Gee-Gees 5-1 in the semi-finals. The Ravens bounced back to win their first Tier 1 UCC medal with a 5-4 victory over the Dalhousie University Tigers for third place.

“It was a really fun week for us,” said Ravens forward Andrea Barker.

Barker noted that the first half of their season was about preparing for this tournament.

“I think we came together the best as a team and worked really well as a team at the UCC,” goalie Sarah Cram said.

Last year, the team finished sixth at the tournament.

“Ending up third definitely exceeded where we were the year before and our goal going in was to get a medal and we achieved that goal,” said Dave Berthelot, who’s been the head coach for five years and has been with the team for seven.

“We performed really well and I think a lot of teams were pretty surprised by our performance in a good way,” Barker said.

The Ravens won gold at tournaments in Oshawa and Nepean in 2017 and are first place in the Gloucester and Area Adult Ringette League (GAARA). However, the UCC meant longer games and more games—eight in five days.

“As athletes, you definitely have to be ready for that. It takes a toll on your body,” Barker said.

After finishing 0-5-1 at the UCC in Calgary two years ago, Barker and other players decided to increase their training last season. They pushed for the team to use the Carleton Athletics High Performance Centre (HPC).

“Our players are fit and as a coach, I see that our players, nearing the end of the tournament when things get really tough . . . are still in decent physical condition,” Berthelot said.

Barker added that the HPC is “huge for injury prevention.” It also symbolized a continued rise in status for the nine-year-old club.

“It’s a process,” Barker said. “Getting practice ice, being able to use the jerseys. Everything is kind of a battle to get those over.”

Barker and Cram, who are both team managers, were able to get the Ravens ice time at Carleton this season as well.

“The support we’re getting from the university now, as opposed to seven years ago is fantastic,” Berthelot said.

For Barker, the motivation is “getting a little bit more established with the Carleton community, getting the chance to have our athletes around [Carleton] Athletics . . . giving the girls on the team the opportunity to have that student-athlete experience.”

Commitment is another key factor, according to Cram. The team has exceeded the standards to attend 75 per cent of practices and 80 per cent of games this year as it practices once a week. Both the players and Berthelot noted the challenge of balancing school, ringette, work, and other commitments.

“Throughout the season, it’s really important to make sure you’re going to practices and doing workouts,” Cram said. “You’ll see your performance get better throughout the season.”

The coaches do a skills assessment of overall ability at the start of the season. It’s higher than before which means more challenging practices, with six to seven drills instead of four, according to Berthelot.

He said the team focuses a lot on passing and possession, including managing the 30-second shot clock.

Having constant feedback is behind their success, according to the players.

“I always just try to evaluate how I think I did so I can work on that area and improve the next ice time,” Cram said.

“I think we have a lot of girls on our team that are hard on themselves but in a constructive way,” Barker said.

Berthelot described his focus: “ringette teams, it’s all about patterns—breakouts, centre ice free passes, offensive free passes.”

Berthelot noted the regular season serves as preparation for tournaments focusing on these specific patterns.

“We treat those games more as practice . . . so we will try and implement new things in those games,” he said.

Barker highlighted the aspects of ringette that go under the radar.

“I don’t think people appreciate the technical skills you need to play it and how fast it is,” Barker said. “I never had anybody come and watch their first ringette game and say ‘that was kind of boring.’ ”

The Carleton Ravens season ends on Jan. 30, and the team is looking to make an impact at provincials.