It was a banner year for the Zone 2 U19A ringette team that was thrown together on a whim before the season, and it nearly ended in a Western Canadian Ringette championship.
Representing the province of Alberta, Zone 2 reached the finals, losing to team Saskatchewan 5-2 March 25 at Gateway Red Arena in Winnipeg.
“It hasn’t quite sunk in yet that we are the second best team in all of Western Canada,” said Zone 2 head coach Steve Rosenberg. “Saskatchewan was the favourite going in and they were a very strong team. Ultimately, we couldn’t get past them, but that’s fine with us. It was an incredible run for a team in its first year.”
Local product Lauryn Eitzen netted a goal in the final.
Wheatland County was well represented on the Zone 2 team: Taneil Kalbhen and Jessica Clyne are from Rockyford, and Ashley LeCavalier and Eitzen are Strathmore products.
Kalbhen dominated the tournament: she led Westerns with 13 goals and 16 points in six games.
“It was an exciting tournament to be a part of,” said Kalbhen. “I’m not even that upset that we didn’t win. It was a great experience and we came so far as a team.”
For her efforts, Kalbhen was named to the tournament all-star team, receiving a commemorative jersey, along with the five other players selected.
Zone 2 picked up other awards during the skills competition, when Danielle Rosenberg won the fastest skater competition and Team Alberta won the overall skills competition.
Team Alberta needed overtime to reach the gold medal game, when they downed the host East End Transcona Wings 9-8 in the semis. Kalbhen sniped four goals and Clyne supplied two assists.
In their final round robin game, Alberta fell 4-1 to Saskatchewan. Kalbhen netted the only goal for Alberta.
Alberta started Westerns with a daunting schedule, taking on the host province and host team in a double header on the first day of competition.
They opened with a 5-2 win over team Manitoba. Kalbhen scored once and Clyne supplied one goal and one assist, and LeCavalier chipped in with one helper.
Alberta doubled up on the host Wings 8-4 later that afternoon. Kalbhen buried five goals, Clyne registered one of each and LeCavalier added another assist.
Alberta picked up a 6-3 win over team B.C. March 24. Kalbhen scored a pair, Clyne finished with a goal and an assist, and LeCavalier recorded three assists.
“It was always our goal to make it to Westerns,” said Kalbhen. “It was fun to take it as far as we did. We always stuck together and we will be friends forever because of this.”
Westerns wraps up a season that saw Zone 2 capture gold at the Lonnie Krahn tournament in Calgary, gold in a Sherwood Park tournament and gold in the Airdrie Ring of Fire tournament.