Athletes, parents and fans filled the West Fraser Centre and Arena 2 with excitement and passion, as the sticks and rings hit the ice over the Jan. 4-6 weekend during the Quesnel Ringette Association’s annual Gold Pan Ringette Tournament.
The Gold Pan Tournament saw the five teams which form the Northern League — Terrace, Shuswap, Prince George and Houston — make the trip to compete with each other and the hometown Quesnel Lighting. Each team would play an average of four games in the tournament.
Athlete ages ranged in age from five to 17 across all teams and divisions in the tournament. Although there may have been diversity in age and skill among the athletes in attendance, the prevailing atmosphere was that of camaraderie and support for each other and the sport.
“Ringette’s nature is inclusivity. On ice to off ice, ringette is designed to be more of a team sport than other sports,” said Shania Boichat, vice-president of the Quesnel Ringette Association.
Boichat, who also served as the tournament co-ordinator and coach of the U16 Quesnel team, added: “You must rely on your teammates to move the ring up the ice instead of having a superstar player able to take it end-to-end. I believe that it creates more camaraderie because parents and coaches have a group of athletes working together as a team to succeed.”
Some of the highlights of the tournament included two matches between the 19A Prince George team (which includes six Quesnel players) and the U16A team from Shuswap, which showcased some highly skilled athletes, as well as a potluck held in the Dunkley Room at the West Fraser Centre for teams and family members.
After the success of the tournament and the evident continuing passion for the sport of ringette in the region, Boichat encourages anyone who is interested in learning the sport and being a part of the community to do so.
“Quesnel Ringette is always looking for new players, at all ages,” said Boichat. “Whether you’ve skated before, or never, ringette was created to make everyone feel included. We have a great group of coaches, volunteers and families involved. We hope to expand so that our tournaments and seasons in the future are as successful as our Gold Pan Tournament 2020!”