The Newmarket Rays are sharpening their blades in advance of the 12th annual Ignite the Ice Ringette Tournament slated to hit the Magna Centre ice next weekend.
Over three days from Feb. 15 to 17, Newmarket will play host to 47 teams and 620 players from across Ontario. The tourney will feature 85 games for players from under eight years old, who are known as the Bunnies, up to 18 and older.
Ringette is said to be one of the fastest team sports for girls on ice.
According to Ringette Canada, like hockey, ringette is played on ice with skates and sticks with six players per team on the ice at once. The objective is to score goals by shooting the object of play into the opposing team’s net at either end of the rink during stop-time periods of play.
But this is where the comparisons between ringette and hockey end, the association states. The stick is straight and the players pursue a rubber ring, not a puck, and there is no intentional body contact.
Alyssia Byers, whose two daughters have played ringette with the Newmarket Rays for eight and six years respectively, said what differentiates ringette the most from other team sports is that the players generally tend to stick with it for years.
“The friendships they have made in the sport are stronger than friendships they've made anywhere else as the kids tend to stick with it year after year and they spend so much time together on and off the ice,” she said. “They always say with ringette, fun and friendship happen on and off the ice.”
The nearby local teams from Barrie, Markham, Richmond Hill, Whitby, Sunderland, and Etobicoke will take to the ice, as well as teams from as far away as Pierrefonds, Quebec, Owen Sound, Goderich, Hanover, Elora-Fergus, Dorchester, London, Gloucester, Exeter-Seaforth, Wellington, Sudbury, Valley East, Hamilton, Kitchener, Burlington and Waterloo, to name but a few.
The winners of each age division will get to take home gold medals in that division and will compete for the chance to be crowned champions of the Ignite the Ice Tournament in their respective age group.
The Newmarket and District Ringette Association is a volunteer run, not-for-profit group co-founded in 1995 by Charles Middleton and Sheri Lee. The association serves players aged four to 70 in Newmarket, Aurora, East Gwillimbury and Bradford West-Gwillimbury.
Spectators and fans are welcome to drop by and check out the action from 8:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday, Feb. 15 and Saturday, Feb. 16, and from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 17 at the Magna Centre, 800 Mulock Dr.
There will be vendors at the event, as well as raffles and games for the children.
The Newmarket and District Ringette Association will host two free Come Try Ringette learn to play events for the community. The first free session will be held Saturday, April 13 at 10:30 a.m. at the East Gwillimbury Sports Complex, 1914 B Mount Albert Rd. in Sharon, and on Sunday, April 14 at 11 a.m. at the Magna Centre, 800 Mulock Dr. in Newmarket.For more information on the Newmarket Rays and Ignite the Ice Ringette Tournament, visit here.