This past weekend the Waterloo Wildfire hosted 16 National Ringette League (NRL) games at RIM Park in Waterloo. The four teams from the Montreal Division were in town to play against their four counterparts from the Southern Ontario Division in NRL Eastern Conference action, all within the Waterloo Ringette Association’s 32nd annual Winterfest Tournament. Wildfire GM, Gerry Kraemer, estimates that more than 1,000 fans took in the elite level competition Saturday and Sunday.
Saturday afternoon the Wildfire opened the weekend action hosting the number-2-in-Canada ranked Montreal Mission and after 28 minutes of the 40-minute game, Waterloo trailed just 4-3 before Montreal turned it on for a 10-3 final count. Wildfire co-captains Lindsey Vivian, Amanda Somerville and Shelly Kraemer each scored one of the Wildfire goals.
Saturday evening the Waterloo ladies outlasted the Rive Sud Revolution 4-2, putting the game on ice with an empty net goal by Jodie Hannen and moving ahead of the Revolution by 3three points at the end of the weekend in the battle for third overall in points in the eastern conference. Kraemer with two goals and Vivian with one completed the Waterloo scoring. Lisa Malanka stopped 23 of the 25 shots, many of them very difficult, in the Waterloo cage.
Sunday morning, after falling behind in the first 16 seconds, the Wildfire roared back for a 7-4 victory over Lac St Louis. Tara Gross, Vivian and Hannen each had two goals in this one with Somerville adding the other.
In the most bizarre game of the weekend Waterloo gave up two goals to BLL in the first 21 seconds and then stormed back to take a 5-2 lead at the half and seemed to be on the way to victory. However, with just over six minutes remaining BLL began their comeback which culminated in the tying goal with just 7seven seconds remaining. The demoralized Wildfire, who had lost sophomore defenceman, Leah Henderson, to injury part way through the second half, were no match for the Quebec squad in the shootout and had to settle for a single point in a 6-5 shootout loss. Vivian with two, Somerville, Bryanna Kelly and Katie Dawson scored for Waterloo.
The Wildfire, with 30 points, lead third place Richmond Hill Lightning by 14 points in their division and need just 4 wins or an equivalent number of Lightning losses in their final nine games to win the right to host one of three eastern conference best of three playoff series March 21 and 22 which will determine if they go on to the NRL championship in Charlottetown April 6 to 11.
Waterloo returns to action this Saturday at 7 pm at Moses Springer Arena when they host the Ottawa Ice and then meet the expansion Gatineau Fusion Sunday at 10:20 am at the Hespeler Arena in two matchups with Capital division clubs.
For all weekend scores, NRL standings, stats and schedule go to www.nationalringetteleague.ca