With just over eight weeks left until the NRL Championship game, competition is tight and teams have their sights focused squarely on making it to Saskatoon. Here are the "Ten Things" we’ve been thinking about.
1. I think the future is all over the country. The top ten rookie scorers come from seven different teams (Rive Sud, Ottawa, Gloucester, Whitby, Cambridge, Richmond Hill and Prairie Fire) so no one has a lock on the future, but quite a few teams have reasons to be hopeful.
2. I think that on February 20, Julie Fleury-Roy of the Cyclones de Quebec will most likely go over the 3000 minutes played mark in the NRL. Over her current 2900+ minutes she has stopped the ring 1671 times and gotten a 29-22-3 record. Julie will be the first goalie to reach the 3000 minute barrier – as the league continues to grow and gets more history under its belt, accomplishments like these will become more and more impressive. For now, this is still pretty incredible!
3. I think the Cambridge Turbos have now lost twice in two weeks (vs Richmond Hill and Montreal). I think the last time anything close to this happened was when the Turbos lost on October 20th and November 16th of 2007. So now that we have established that the Turbos are good, the open question is how will they deal with a wobble, being so unaccustomed to them?
4. I think that things may be coming together in the Western Conference playoff race. With big wins each on the weekend the Calgary RATH and the Prairie Fire both widened leads on the rest of the Western pack. Fraser Valley, Manitoba and Saskatoon are all very far from being mathematically eliminated but the RATH and Fire have created some breathing room, something that teams in the west have rarely ever had.
5. I think that with 11 points in 20 games, the Gatineau Fusion are in a position to take care of their own playoff future. The Fusion have more games left to play than the team they are chasing (Richmond Hill) and the teams that are chasing them for the last playoff spot (BLL and Whitby). The trick with games left to play is…you have to win them! Luckily for the Fusion, they have more chances to win than the teams immediately around them in the standings, and chances are the most any one team can really ask for.
6. I think that on February 20th Cambridge faces Ottawa, in Aylmer, Quebec. Wow – there is a lot on the line with the winner getting the driver’s seat for the eastern conference #1 seed (although, don’t count out Montreal either) and after the beauty they played in their last game we can expect more of the same when they meet up again.
7. I think that Rive Sud is a bit tough to figure out. The Revolution are below the .500 mark, but have wins against Montreal and Quebec City. They have veteran leadership (Caroline Ross) a rookie scoring sensation (Marilyne Bedard) and a two-time national teamer (Julie Primard). Yet, with all of these pieces in place, the Revolution have not yet taken off. With those weapons though, any team that sees a below .500 team and thinks they will have an easy time of it are likely in for a tough surprise.
8. I think our NRL athletes continue to impress me off the ice as well as on. We have a great group of role models who always seem to go the extra distance when a good cause presents itself. Case in point, the Cambridge Turbos participation in the recent "Because I am a Girl" campaign (http://www.nationalringetteleague.ca/girls-supporting-girls-around-the-world-p140648-en).
9. I think these are the big stats since we last met:
Goals Since January 28th: Catherine Cartier, Montreal (16)
Assists Since January 28th: Julie Primard, Rive Sud (12)
Points Since January 28th: Catherine Cartier, Montreal (20)
3 or More Goal Games:
Katie Lugg, Ottawa – 3 goals vs Quebec City
Carling Munro, Richmond Hill – 3 goals vs Whitby
Katie Lugg, Ottawa – 3 goals vs Quebec City (yep, twice in one day!)
Megan Macauley, Whitby – 3 goals vs Richmond Hill
Elyssa Jasper, Richmond Hill – 3 goals vs Whitby
Catherine Cartier, Montreal – 4 goals vs Gloucester
Marilyne Bédard, Rive Sud – 3 goals vs BLL
Karine Thériault, Rive Sud – 3 goals vs BLL
Nadia Chenard, BLL – 3 goals vs Rive Sud
Sheena MacDonald, Prairie Fire – 3 goals vs Edmonton WAM!
Marilyne Bedard, Rive Sud – 4 goals vs Whitby
Julie Blanchette, Montreal – 3 goals vs Cambridge
Katherine Groulx, Lac St Louis – 3 goals vs Whitby
Beth Hurren, Richmond Hill – 3 goals vs Lac St Louis
Deanna DaDalt, Whitby – 3 goals vs BLL
Sharolyn Wouters, Cambridge – 4 goals vs Rive Sud
Stacey Cunningham, Cambridge – 4 goals vs Rive Sud
Catherine Cartier, Montreal – 3 goals vs Richmond Hill
Jennifer Wakefield, Fraser Valley – 3 goals vs Calgary
Catherine Cartier, Montreal – 5 goals vs Whitby
January 30 – Tori Goble (10 saves) vs Quebec City
February 6 – Meghan Pittaway (22 saves) vs BLL
February 7 – Tori Goble (36 saves) vs Gatineau
Games with a Goal: Katie Lugg (OTT), Marilyne Bedard (RVS), Bryanna Kelly (WAT) – 8 Games
Games with a Point: Catherine Cartier (MTL) and Julie Blanchette (MTL) – 26 Games
Consecutive Wins: Ottawa Ice – 9 Wins
10. I think these are my non-NRL thoughts this week:
a. I think that we still want to be in the Olympic Games, but nothing should stop us from being a part of the Olympic Movement. We can uphold the values of the Olympic Movement in our sport and we will be better off for it. When and if the Games happen – they happen. Until then, lets keep doing the right things the right way.
b. I think that the exaggerations of the Super Bowl are ridiculous. At the end of the game, Saints’ quarterback Drew Brees was holding his son and the announcer said "that is the dream of every father". Really? This means that in all time, only 1 or 2 fathers have had their dream come true. Ugh.
c. I think that May Long weekend this year will be quite a ringette gathering in Ottawa. With eight provinces sending their Canada Winter Games training squads for a joint training camp there will be an awful lot of talent in one place and at one time. NRL teams will certainly be interested in these incoming athletes and their provinces will be keenly interested in getting ready for the Games, in February 2011 in Halifax.
d. I think it’s fun that the Raptors don’t stink this year. It is fun to care a little bit about pro basketball again.
e. I think that our politicians are all saying the right things about maintaning strong funding for sport. With budget pressures continuing to grow, this will be harder to see in reality. Don’t be afraid to send a letter or an email to your local representative to let them know that sport is important to you.