The Northern Ringette League (NRL) U16 regional team captured gold at the AA provincials in Houston on the weekend.
The triumph marked the first time a northern ringette team has earned the right to go to nationals as Team B.C. The AA national championships are being hosted by the Cambridge (Ont.) Ringette League from March 27 to April 2.
Three players from Prince George are a part of the northern team forward Justine Lamothe, defender Saynia Pickering and goalie Murdine Leboe.
In Houston, two other regional teams competed in a double knockout competition, representing the Lower Mainland Ringette League (LMRL) and Thompson Okanagan Ringette League (TORL).
In their first game of the weekend on Saturday, the NRL squad defeated the TORL by a 10-6 score. They followed that victory with a slim 7-6 defeat to the LMRL team, also on Saturday.
The TORL was eliminated by the LMRL, losing 8-7.
On Sunday, the NRL hammered LMRL 8-3 and defeated the Lower Mainland squad again in the final, 6-5 in overtime. The northern team battled back from a 3-0 deficit in the final.
Making up the majority of the NRL roster, 10 players hail from Quesnel. They are: Katie Berg, Ricki Burt, Sidney Kaleta, Jessica MacDonald, Emily McMartin, Cheyann Newman, Rebecca Milligan, Colleen Moorhouse, Erin Wiggins and Hannah Young. Jamie Beck of Houston and Aimee Qualizza of Terrace also suited up for the squad.
The team’s head coach is Don McMartin. Assistant coaches are Judy Young, Melinda Moorhouse and Art Lamothe.
Due to the distance between players, the northern U16 team only practices together during league tournaments in Prince George, Quesnel, Houston and Terrace each season.
In other action this past season, the NRL team placed third out of 10 teams at the Edmonton Woods AA tournament in November. The squad also entered the Calgary Esso Golden Ring in January. In that competition, they missed out on getting one of the top four playoff berths by losing a points for and against tiebreaker. They finished fifth.
At the Pacific Ring AA tournament in Richmond, they placed third in a five-team tournament with teams from Calgary and Central Alberta taking first and second.
Lamothe, Pickering and Leboe are also entering A provincials with their Prince George house team, a tournament scheduled for Thursday to Sunday in Burnaby. Other Prince George players going to the competition are: Caitlyn Zacharias, Stephaney Thompson, Jaden Bester, Melanie Brook, Annissa Webb, Chloe Nakahara, Cody Nichiporik, Sianne Petrisor and Carlee Rerick. Coaches are Art Lamothe, Diane Pickering and Darren Brook. The manager is Sarah Zacharias