The Cochrane Rockies fought their way to a silver medal at the U16A Ringette Alberta provincial championships last weekend.
“Winning a medal wasn’t an expectation in mind. If someone would have told us how the season was going to end, with being in the gold medal final…,” a proud coach Jason Novak said this week. “(The players) get along and they care about each other … part of it was just grit and determination.”
Novak said the U16A team started with a small roster of 10 skaters and a goalie in the fall. Injuries whittled down that number to seven or eight, meaning the team relied on affiliate players for some of the season. Still, the squad held their own, and headed to provincials in Irvine as one of the top eight U16A teams in the province.
The teens first pushed through the round robin with a 2-0-1 record, then beat the NW Calgary Apex 7-5 in the semi-final matchup to earn a spot in the gold medal game.
Although the finals saw the Rockies fall 7-0 to the Spruce Grove Ice Warriors, Novak said the season’s setbacks helped to encourage the entire team to dig deep and get as far as they did.
“Having kids out of the lineup – it kind of forced some of our players to step up. We needed them … all of a sudden, they were being asked to take a fairly significant role – and they rose up to it,” said Novak. “It was fantastic.”
The U16A squad will have one more chance to win when they play their final game of the season on Sunday against the Strathmore Ice for the Big Country Zone 2 banner.