October 14 – Vancouver, BC – The LMRL Thunder of the National Ringette League (NRL) officially announced their roster and team staff today ahead of their inaugural season which opens the weekend of October 22 and 23 at home against the Saskatoon Wild.
Leading the team this season will be a strong core of returning NRL veterans from the now defunct Fraser Valley Avalanche, including former NRL Rookie of the Year Finalist Brandy Lietz (Ladner), Julia Scigliano (Burnaby) and Amanda Pukalo (Richmond) at forward. Erika Lipsett (Salmon Arm) and Stacy Johnson (Calgary, AB) return for their second season of NRL ringette in the lower mainland, and they will be joined by newcomers Salla Kyhälä (Tuusula, Finland), Jenn Wakefield (Langley) and Jamie Matusiak (White Rock). Wakefield and Matusiak played for NRL clubs in the Eastern Conference last season, while Kyhälä joins the team after a season of club ringette in Finland.
The back end has a strong mix of youth and veteran experience, with Dani Brassington (North Vancouver), Sarah Butterworth (Surrey) and Mel Thomas (West Vancouver) anchoring a steady back end, along with NRL rookies Alannah Radburn (Ottawa, ON) and Kacy Hannesson (Langley), both of whom graduated from the LMRL AA program last season. Guarding the net is fellow NRL rookie Sasha Campbell-Mongeon.
“In this group we have a strong mix of speed and skill, with many players having experience at the national and international level, representing British Columbia and many countries, including Canada, USA and Finland.” said coach Chris Wakefield. In fact, Salla Kyhälä (Finland), Jenn Wakefield (Canada) and Kacy Hannesson (USA) all played against each other at the 2010 World Ringette Championships, with Finland capturing Gold in the finals against Canada. Wakefield added, “The strong base of returning players has allowed the newcomers to step in seamlessly, creating a competitive environment that is vital for growth throughout the season.”
Joining Wakefield on the team staff are coaches Bill Woodley, Cathy Lipsett and Dale Hannesson, along with manager Teresa Brassington. Wakefield (Langley) coached in the NRL in 2009-10, and with LMRL the past three seasons in the U19AA, including this year. Woodley (Richmond) brings years of experience as a coach and administrator at the league and provincial level, and is a Level 3 Master Learning Facilitator, teaching the next generation of ringette coaches in British Columbia. Lipsett (Salmon Arm) has coached AA in BC for many years, and was last seen leading Team BC at the Canada Winter Games in 2011 in Halifax, NS. Hannesson joins the Thunder after many years of both hockey and ringette experience in the lower mainland.
The LMRL Thunder is a member of the 19 team National Ringette League and is operated by the Lower Mainland Ringette League, a group of nine local associations from North Vancouver to Abbotsford, BC. The 2012 Canadian Ringette Championships are taking place in April in Burnaby, BC, and the Thunder is the first team to qualify for the event as Host in the NRL Division.