19 Teams in 19 Days – Ottawa Ice

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

Ottawa Ice

Last season finish:
Regular season – 3rd place Eastern Conference
Eastern playoffs – won 2-0 over Gatineau
NRL Championship – 6th place

Head coach: Al Bateman
Two questions with coach Bateman:
What would it mean to you, as a coach, to win the NRL championship this season?
As a coach, winning the NRL championship would be the culmination of all the effort and work that we have all put into the Ottawa Ice over the years. I have been privileged to work with a first rate group of athletes and families.

What does your team have to do to win an NRL championship?
In order to win an NRL championship Ottawa Ice need to continue to draft well and develop our young players. We are one of the youngest teams in the league and we have improved every year.

The NRL nugget to know about this team:
Jenna McBride made her second Team Canada in this calendar year as she and her Ottawa/Toronto team won the national championship in Ultimate, qualifying to represent Canada at Worlds.

The question to be answered:
Can this team get out of the trend of competing but not winning at the National Championship? Ottawa has a good team that competes well all season and has had more than its share of shots at the National title. With the rest of the conference always improving, this team may need to stake a step forward very soon, or risk taking a step backward.

What happened in the off-season:
The Ice added two key players in the draft – Team Ontario Canada Games gold medallist Sarah Gross and Chloe Laframbroise.

The (hidden) gem:
No one really talks much about Tori Goble. This is strange because she really stops the ring. Since 2007, Goble’s ranks are:
Goals Against Average: 2nd
Minutes Played: 2nd
Wins: 2nd
Save Percentage: 2nd
Shutouts: 2nd

This is pretty good, no?

Reason for optimism:
This team has Team Canada players returning in Jenna McBride and Katie Lugg, it has good goalkeeping, veteran coaching and youth. There is a lot to work with for this Ottawa team as it tries to challenge Montreal and Cambridge for the eastern conference title (and beyond).

Reason for concern:
Tori Goble is very good, but she is not a superwoman. She plays virtually all the minutes for this team and has for a few years. If that workload causes her to falter, it could spell trouble for the Ice. However, she has not faltered yet, so there is not particular reason to think she can’t keep it up for another season.