1. I think that Richmond Hill and Cambridge are in for a very exciting Christmas break. Over the break, the Lightning and Turbos will be travelling to Finland to play in the second World Club Championship. Cambridge won the first version back in 2008 in Sault Ste Marie and will be looking to defend that title. For both teams, they may want to keep an eye on a couple of key Finns. Anne Pohjola of Lapinlahden Luistin-89 has 177 points through 16 games in the Finnish elite league. (I’ll give you a second to re-read that last sentence – it’s not a typo, check the scoring stats here). The other player will be much more familiar to the Canadian teams as Jennifer Hartley has taken a year away from the WAM! to play for Luki-82 and will be competing at the World Clubs as well. Good luck to both the Turbos and the Lightning and we are all hoping for an all-Canadian final!
2. I think that the story of the first half of the season has been the expansion teams. The LMRL Thunder swept the Edmonton WAM! in Edmonton, proving their second place standing is no fluke. And the Atlantic Attack have defended home ice and competed on the road to an above .500 record. This is no small thing and both teams have done a great job of getting their teams together so quickly.
3. I think penalty minutes continue to be a good predictor of success. Teams at the top of the standings just don’t take many penalties (led by the Cambridge Turbos who are taking only 5.86 minutes a game). Staying out of the penalty box is never a bad idea.
4. I think that carnival rides + ringette is pretty much the coolest math I have ever done. And on December 17th, the Cyclones de Quebec will be facing the Waterloo Wildfire at Mega Parc des Galeries de la Capitale in Quebec City. The shopping centre has an amusement park as well as a rink and people will be trying out ringette at Come Try Ringette sessions and will be able to check out local heroes such as Chantal St Laurent and Julie Fleury Roy. Also, wear your jersey and you can get coupons for amusement park rides. This is just gonna be all kinds of awesome!
5. I think that the Montreal Mission were shut out last weekend by the Cambridge Turbos. Apart from being a pretty amazing accomplishment by the Turbos (and specifically by goalkeeper Meghan Pittaway) it is even more so when you consider that since 2007 the Mission have played 138 games and they have been shut out only three times in that span – all by the Turbos.
6. I think that historically the Eastern Conference has been much higher scoring than the West – and that this difference is becoming smaller and smaller. Thus far in the season the teams in the East have scored 10.2 total goals per game and in the West – 9.4. They are still different, but it is not nearly the big chasm it used to be.
7. I think that the sister scoring race continues to be close at the top. Here are the sister standings as of December 11:
Jackie Gaudet (Cambridge) and Jenn Wakefield (LMRL) 83
Andrea and Ainsley Ferguson (Prairie Fire) 76
Stephanie, Annie-Pier and Karine Seguin (Montreal) 64
Jessica and Gen Pepper (Rive Sud) 56
8. I think that in addition to notching a shut out against the Mission, Meghan Pittaway is putting together a somewhat dominant season in goal for the Turbos. Her stats are pretty incredible:
Goals Against Average 1.92
Next Best GAA 2.91
% Difference 53%
Wow. And while leading in save percentage by 24 points, Pittaway has had a first half of the season to remember.
9. I think more and more NRL teams are using Twitter to spread the word about what’s happening throughout the season. I think this is great. For those of you who are not familiar with Twitter, it is a place to post 140 character tweets that your followers can read. A shout out to some of the NRL teams currently on Twitter – @LSLringette, @CalgaryRATH and @EdmWAMRingette. As a side note, the NRL Twitter account (@NRLLNR) posts lots of interesting facts and stories about the league and it also posts game results as soon as they are entered on the website. It’s free and there are lots of great twitter apps out there for your desktop and smartphones.
10. I think these are my non-NRL thoughts this week:
a. I think that Glee may very well have jumped the shark.
b. I think the weather this “winter” has been crazy. Hurricanes in Calgary, near tropical temps in Ottawa, and nothing predicable. I don’t get it.
c. I think that the first weekend of December is quite the weekend for ringette in the national capital region. Both Ottawa and Gatineau hold major and successful tournaments that weekend – well done to both associations and all the associations that hold great tournaments in our sport.