1. I think that the Eastern playoffs were closer than they looked. This was especially the case in the two game sweeps in Southern Ontario. The Atlantic Attack gave the Richmond Hill Lightning all they could handle, especially in game two where Karen McWilliams scored with nine seconds to go, to clinch a spot at the national championships. In the other southern Ontario series, the Quebec City Cyclones gave the Cambridge Turbos a ton of trouble in game one, coming up only one goal short against the perennial powerhouse.
2. I think this year could be nothing more than a blip for the Edmonton WAM!, but their run in the NRL bears some mention as they miss out on the championship tournament this year. The WAM’s final series against the Manitoba Jets marked the first time that the WAM! have ever faced elimination before the championship tournament. In this run, the WAM! have been great all of the time and often dominant, but injuries, luck and ascendant teams in the LMRL Thunder and Manitoba Jets made the mountain too high this year. For one particular player, this is a huge change. This year will be the first since 1994 that the CRC will be played without Keely Brown on the ice. An incredible run by an incredible player.
3. I think that most people would think that if you score a lot of goals, it is because you spread the scoring around and with everyone contributing, you keep the defence on its toes and score that way. I would have thought that too. But, looking at the stats from this year, it is pretty clear that the teams that scored a lot of goals were led by a single player who scored a large percentage of them. For the top four scoring teams, the leading goal scorer accounted for over 30% of the goals. For the rest of the league, the leading scorer accounted for a much lower chunk: 23%.
4. I think that there is something about ringette and downhill skating. This year, former NRL player Marquise Brisebois and current member of the LMRL Thunder Salla Kyhala were both in the final heat at Crashed Ice, with Kyhala taking silver. In the earlier rounds, Dallas Robbins of the Calgary RATH was eliminated in qualifying in her first attempt at the event (and it seems that you must do it more than once – I mean, how do you practice that?).
5. I think that the best may have been saved for last in the NRL Championship schedule. The matchup of the Cambridge Turbos and the LMRL Thunder will happen on Friday April 13. The Friday the 13th game will almost certainly have implications in terms of who goes through to the playoffs, but will also mark the first game for Jenn Wakefield against her sister Jackie Gaudet, her Dad, Glen Gaudet, and the rest of her former Cambridge Turbos teammates. This will definitely be a game to watch in Burnaby!
6. I think that Emily Bakker got at least one point in each of the thirty games this season. That’s not too shabby!
7. I think the Ferguson sisters poured it on in the scoring department to end the season caught up to the Wakefield/Gaudet sister scoring combination. It was quite a race down the stretch with the Fergusons getting 27 points in the final month, vaulting them two points ahead – but that was with one weekend left. In that weekend, Jenn Wakefield went off, with seven goals and kept the Wakefield/Gaudet duo in the lead.
Jackie Gaudet (Cambridge) and Jenn Wakefield (LMRL) 178
Andrea and Ainsley Ferguson (Prairie Fire) 167
Stephanie, Annie-Pier and Karine Seguin (Montreal) 112
Katie and Carrie Lugg (Ottawa) 106
Jess and Gen Pepper (Rive Sud) 101
8. I think that this was a tough year for the goalies. There were only five shutouts all year long, with only Bobbi Mattson of Calgary getting two. On save percentage, only two goalies were above the .900 mark, with Meghan Pittaway leading the league at .914.
9. I think that Amy Clarkson of the Manitoba Jets established a new league record this season with a full 1200 minutes played in the Jets net. If that sounds a like a lot of minutes, it is. In fact, it is all of the minutes. The Jets played 1200 minutes this season, and so did Clarkson.
10. I think these are my non-NRL thoughts this week:
a. I think we need a theme for the NR Championship preview. We have done a music themed article for a few years now – do we need to change it up? Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
b. I think that if you are heading to the NRL Championship tournament in Burnaby you need to remember a few important things. One, if you don’t get to Metropolis at Metrotown, you are missing out on the best shopping in the West. Two, if you are against lush green mountainsides, the scent of the ocean and beautiful mountains in the distance, Burnaby might not be for you. For the other 99% of the world, it is pretty sweet.
c. I think that a lot of teams have wrapped up or are wrapping up their seasons about now. Our sport was better because you joined us this season, from U9 to Masters, and we can’t wait to have each and every one of you (along with some friends) back in the fall.