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
Last season finish:
Regular season – 5th place Eastern Conference
Eastern playoffs – lost 2-1 to Gloucester Devils
Head coach: Luc Plante
Two questions with coach Plante:
What would it mean to you, as a coach, to win the NRL championship this season?
Like most of my NRL colleagues, many of us have participated in the Canadian Ringette Championships as head coaches or assistant coaches. The feeling you get from this high level competition makes you dream of the highest honors. Being on an NRL bench, against the best coaches and players in the country, and on top of that winning the Championships, would be a great feat and an honor that I would like to share with my assistant coaches and my players. It is a great challenge, but not impossible.
What does your team have to do to win an NRL championship?
It is quite hard to answer this question at the beginning of the season as Rive Sud has made some changes in its line-up and has a talented, but very young group of players. The average age is 20.4 years old and the oldest player is 22. However, each and every player has the common priority of the taste of victory, the will to surpass themselves and the joy to play as a team. This year, each girl’s motto will be: in order to get what the others do not have, you must do what the others do not do. This should allow us to have a season corresponding to our talent, and, why not, dream about the greatest honor? Why not?
The NRL nugget to know about this team:
Rive Sud has made the playoffs each year since the Eastern Conference instituted a full playoff.
The question to be answered:
Can new addition Jessica Pepper find the scoring touch in Rive Sud? She was the all time leading scorer for Le Royal de Bourassa (formerly BLL), and has scored prolifically ever since her turn as a member of Team Quebec at the 2003 Canada Winter Games. She will have help in a team that has been able to score over the years, but it remains to be seen if this will keep up as she switches to the south side of the Champlain bridge.
What happened in the off-season:
Jessica Pepper is a huge addition and a potential game changer for a team that traded away a huge scorer in Julie Primard last season. Pepper is not the only key addition, as several young players coming out of the 2011 Canada Winter Games program – Marie-Laurence Tauvette, Carolane Krutzfeldt Duplessis and goalie Claudie Carpentier – will certainly help this team. They also picked up Catherine Giguère, a star defenseman who played for Team Canada East at the U19 World Junior Championship held in Prague in 2009.
The (hidden) gem:
Claudie Carpentier joins Rive Sud from the Canada Winter Games program. She was good for Team Quebec and made an unforgettable save in the final seconds against Saskatchewan to preserve a Bronze medal. We know she can perform under pressure so she may be a gem waiting to jump out this season.
Reason for optimism:
This team was good before, but has never made the leap into being a real contender for a national championship. The players are there, so this could very well be the year.
Reason for concern:
Rive Sud averaged 11.3 penalty minutes per game last season. That is simply too much and if they can’t figure out how to stay out of the box they are going to have a tough time progressing this season. However, if they can stay out of the box they have the tools to make some noise in the Eastern Conference.