Calgary ringette team on mission possible

Calgary Herald – January 18, 2008

By: Kristen Oldand
Not to take away from this weekend, but Beth Veale has a different set of 24 carats on her mind.

Although the head coach of the Calgary Rath is mainly focused on today’s start of the annual Calgary Esso Golden Ring ringette tournament, she’s hoping to capture national gold by the end of the year.

“We climbed last year from fifth to second in the rankings,’ Veale said of her National Ringette League club, which competes in Canada’s highest level of the sport. “And our goal this year is really to improve to No. 1.

“We want to show that climb was realistic and we really feel if we can put it all together, we’re hoping we’ll end up as national champions this year.’

With this weekend’s Golden Ring event in the Rath’s home city, it’s the perfect time to keep that momentum going.

For the Rath, parked in third in NRL Western Conference standings and No. 7 in the country, they’ll have two league games this weekend that will serve as their tournament play.

“It’s kind of an important part of the season for us,’ said Veale, whose squad battles with six other teams in their region. “We’re right mid-season; it’s a critical point.

“All the practice and preparation that we put in at the beginning of the season

. . . we expect to see the results of those things come into place and, hopefully, successfully for us.

“It’s an important time.’

This year, the 22nd annual event has invited 191 teams that will play more than 350 games today through Sunday.

But since most of Veale’s 15-player roster grew up playing in the renowned ringette tournament, participating is an added bonus on the weekend’s play.

“Even though these are league games for us, they still get to be a part of the whole Golden Ring atmosphere,’ she said. “All the kids would have played in it as they’ve gone through (ringette).

“It’s kind of neat to sort of be the highlight team now.’

The NRL Western Conference is sending only two other teams to this weekend’s show — the B.C. Reign from Vancouver’s lower mainland and the Winnipeg-based Prairie Fire.

While the Rath features players 19 years old and up, the Golden Ring tournament will have players ranging in ages five to 30.

“It’s huge,’ said Veale of the tournament. “It is, I’m sure you’ve heard, by far the best ringette tournament in the world.

“The most teams, the best run — we’re very honoured to be the host team for the other (NRL) teams in the tournament.’

For a complete tournament schedule and information, visit: www.ringettecalgary.ca and click on the 2008 Esso Golden Ring icon.