19 Teams in 19 Days – Lower Mainland Ringette League Thunder

Another season is underway and as teams hit the ice in their quest for the 2011-2012 NRL Championship title, we’re taking a closer look at each team in the league. The new series is called 19 Teams in 19 Days and we would like to encourage you to join in the discussion on Twitter by following www.twitter.com/nrllnr or by sending us an email at NRLchatter@nationalringetteleague.ca 

Lower Mainland Ringette League Thunder

Last season finish: n/a

Head coach: Chris Wakefield
Two questions with coach Wakefield:

What would it mean to you, as a coach, to win the NRL championship this season?
It would mean a lot to our entire bench staff, as it’s our goal to put our athletes in a position to compete and ultimately succeed. Winning a league championship is just one tangible way to measure the success of a team’s season – but its definitely a goal that all great teams strive to accomplish.

What does your team have to do to win an NRL championship?
Beat Edmonton and Cambridge. Both those clubs have played in five of the last six NRL Championships, including the last three against each other. No disrespect is intended to any other of the top clubs such as Calgary, Prairie Fire and Ottawa, but those two clubs have set the standard for success that all other teams ultimately get measured against.

The NRL nugget to know about this team:
It exists! The Thunder have brought BC back into the NRL fold this season and everyone is better off for it!

The question to be answered:
Jennifer Wakefield + Salla Kyhala + Expansion Team = ? To be fair, the Thunder have several NRL veterans coming back this season from either the days of the Fraser Valley Avalanche or from elsewhere in the league, but clearly this team will be defined by the powerhouses from Team Canada and Team Finland at the 2010 World Ringette Championship.

What happened in the off-season:
First, the team was granted expansion team status. Then they acquired Jennifer Wakefield and Salla Kyhala. A lot more than that happened, and a lot more is going to have to happen for this team to be competitive, but those are the headlines for now.

The (hidden) gem:
Erika Lipsett joins the NRL full time this season after notching 14 points in 7 games for Team BC at the Canada Winter Games. Regardless of how Wakefield and Kyhala do this season, the Thunder will need secondary scoring, and Lipsett may be the answer to that challenge.

Reason for optimism:
Any team with Team Canada’s Jennifer Wakefield and worlds MVP Salla Kyhala has a shot. There is plenty of room for enthusiasm with those two players on the roster.

Reason for concern:
This team will be young and will be playing in a very tough Western Conference, where a bad weekend can take you from 1st to 4th in a hurry. This team will have to take games one at a time and take on the challenge presented each and every weekend by this tough conference.