For the first time in the nearly six-year history of the National Ringette League, the Waterloo Wildfire have something to show points wise after a pair of weekend games with their Waterloo Region rivals, the Cambridge Turbos.
Saturday night at RIM Park in Waterloo the Wildfire took a one-goal lead three times but on each occasion Cambridge came back to tie the game, the last time with just 82 seconds remaining in the second half to knot the score at 3-3 and send the game to a shootout. Each team had one point at this juncture and it was only after the 4th round of the shootout that the Turbos, the defending Canadian Champions eked out the final point with a 4-3 victory.
Christina Mascherin of Cambridge was named the game’s first star, scoring both of her teams goals in the shoot out and once in regulation time. Lisa Malanka in the Wildfire cage stopped 28 of 31 Cambridge shots and earned the second star. Wildfire co-captain, Amanda Somerville, the third star scored once and assisted on the other two Wildfire markers while also scoring Waterloo’s only goal in the shootout. Lindsey Vivian and Bryanna Kelly also scored for the Wildfire.
Sunday afternoon in Cambridge the plot was different. The Turbos took the early lead with the Wildfire coming back three minures later to tie it but trailed 3-2 at the half. Cambridge increased the lead to 5-2 in the first 9 minutes of the second half. This time, however, unlike many times over the years, the Wildfire did not collapse but instead dominated the final 11 minutes and came within a goal with just under 7 minutes remaining. After hitting both a goal post and a crossbar and pulling goalkeeper Malanka, Waterloo had to settle for a moral victory only, losing 5-4.
"We’ve come a long way since the 17-2 and 13-1 losses that we had to endure several years ago" said Wildfire GM Gerry Kraemer, "and this year isn’t over yet"
The Wildfire goals were evenly distributed among Somerville, Kelly, Shelagh Rouse and rookie Katie Truman. Jackie Gaudet led Cambridge with a hat trick.
Next Wildfire action is next weekend when the 4 teams of the Montreal Division come to Southern Ontario to do battle with the 4 teams here. Waterloo will take on the Eastern Conference’s # 3 team, the Montreal Mission, Saturday evening at 7pm at RIM Park. The local squad will also play 3 other games in Richmond Hill — against BLL, Lac St Louis and Rive Sud — during the Richmond Hill tournament Saturday and Sunday.
The Wildfire currently sit 5th in the 12-team conference, 4 points ahead of Rive Sud, and must stay in front of them to have the right to host one of four best-of-3 series in March to determine who goes to the NRL Championships in Saskatoon in April. The first team overall has a playoff bye.