By: Jeff MacKinnon
Thursday, February 21, 2008
If, say, Kailee Klemmensen threw a birthday party for herself out in Hussar, you can be sure you’d see no Edmonton WAM! players being fitted for a party hat at the front door.
One ex-WAM!, current Calgary RATH Barb Bautista, could attend. But that’s it.
Klemmensen’s played with a few of them on various teams and says they’re nice and all that, but business is business.
“What do they say in sports? There’s no friendships once the game starts,” she says.
“We want to beat them. They’re standing between us and being the top team in the West.”
WAM! stands between the RATH and first place in the Western Conference of the National Ringette League as the regular season plays out its final month. Top spot would allow for an easier opening game at the upcoming nationals, which will involve crossover battles with the East in St. Albert the first weekend in April.
WAM! has won six of the past eight national titles, including in 2007. The runner-up last year? The RATH.
The RATH and WAM! will close out the regular season with a pair of games on Sunday, March 9, at noon at the Totem Arena in Cochrane and again at 5:15 p.m. at Murray Copot Arena.
It may be that WAM! will have already locked up first place since they were seven points clear Calgary with five games left and with only one loss.
“Someone’s got to help us out,” says Klemmensen.
The NRL, now in its second season has 17 teams scattered across the country, including western membership in Vancouver, Calgary, Winnipeg, Saskatoon and two in Edmonton.
Representing the RATH this season are: Bautista; Victoria Russell, who had 20 goals through the first 19 games; Pam Lenz; Jodi Jensen; Stacy Johnson; Allison Cronin; Tatum Wensink; Abbey Hoes; Dallas Robbins; Caitlin Setters; Lindsay Veale; Sarah Beaton; Stacey McNichol; and Bobbi Mattson.
Klemmensen joined the fold midway through the first season after five winters playing in Finland. She’s coming off a huge January, scoring 14 goals and seven assists to lead the RATH to five wins and one shootout loss log, to earn first star honours for the month for the entire league.
Klemmensen has 30 goals and 18 assists in 30 games to lead the RATH in scoring and also sits in fourth place on the Western Conference points list.
The 28-year-old works hard at the sport, which she has been playing since she was five. Being employed as a bartender gives her the opportunity to jump on the ice when the arena in Hussar isn’t being used during the day to get a couple of hours of solo practice time. Then, she’ll make the one-hour drive to Calgary a couple of times a week to work with her teammates.
“Kailee is one of the most passionate people toward ringette that I’ve ever met,” says RATH coach Beth Veale.
“She spent five years in Finland, and she wasn’t doing it so she could come home and make a million dollars playing the game. She did it simply to improve her skills and be the best player she could be,” Veale adds.
“She’s incredibly intense. When you’ve played against Kailee, you know you’ve played against Kailee.
“We’re lucky to have her on our team.”