Ten Things I Think I Think – Pre-NRL Championship Edition

As we embark on our National Ringette League Championship tournament in Burnaby, we are focusing our ten thoughts on the teams who will be representing our league and competing for the NRL title. We reached out for ideas on a theme for this edition of the Ten Things and are pleased to present “Mountains to climb – the view from Burnaby” – enjoy!

1. I think that there are eight teams competing at the national championships this year. I am sure this makes you think that I am a counting genius. In fact, by using up this one thought to point that out, leaves me with one thought for each of the eight teams plus my non-NRL thoughts. Again, pure genius. So without further ado, the following eight thoughts will each be based on one of the great features of BC’s Lower Mainland, and especially of the Burnaby area. Did I mention genius?

2. I think that the Montreal Mission will be looking at Burnaby Mountain and thinking that it is a mountain, and that it can be climbed. The Mission have seen good seasons fizzle away at the national championships in each of the last two seasons, and this year are looking to get over that hump and climb their way to a championship. With only two losses on the season, they surely have a team that can do it, they just need to find their way over that mountain.

3. I think Calgary RATH are going to bring a lot of what makes Granville Island such an unforgettable part of the Vancouver region. Granville Island is a downtown market and shopping district that combines a farmers market with an artists collective with high-end dining – it is incredibly cool. RATH have the youthful enthusiasm that comes with a young team, the stability of a group of veterans and some diversity with players from around southern Alberta and the NRL’s only Argentinian born player. So far this year RATH have done a good job of pulling all of the parts together and they will have to build on the the fact that they are a hard team to categorize and keep other teams guessing.

4. I think that the Manitoba Jets would feel pretty comfortable on the Capilano Suspension Bridge. The suspension bridge crosses the Capilano Canyon and sways back and forth in a way that some would find exhilarating and others…downright scary. The Jets have been on the edge of qualifying for some time this season. They only clinched their spot in Burnaby with two games to go in the season. They have been playing elimination games pretty much since January, so the Jets will be more than ready for the added pressure that goes with the national championship tournament.

5. I think the Ottawa Ice remind me a bit of the Vancouver Aquarium. Apart from being the place where Dr. Roberts worked on “Danger Bay”, the Aquarium is home to a dizzying array of aquatic wildlife that can be found on Canada’s Pacific coast. The connection? The Ice like to call themselves the “Ferals” for reasons I do not know or understand (but I do find intimidating). Ferals are animals that are tame (like cats or dogs) but that escape and go wild. This kind of happens when the Aquarium releases a marine animal back into the wild. There, the Ottawa Ice are just like the Vancouver Aquarium!

6. I think Richmond Hill Lightning are among the league leaders in their prodigious use of video for scouting and coaching. Burnaby is home to Bridge Studios (among others) as the Lower Mainland of BC is a major film production hub. The Lightning had a very tough series in the east against the Atlantic Attack and also had the experience of the World Club Championships this season. They have already dealt with a lot of adversity and they will be ready to take on the crazy combination of marathon and sprint that is the national championships.

7. I think Cambridge Turbos have a lot of coaches. The head coach of the national team, Glen Gaudet, along with coaches from the U19 East team, Sharolyn Wouters and Jacqueline Gaudet. With all of this leadership and knowledge, it is hard not to compare the Turbos to Simon Fraser University. SFU is in the heart of Burnaby and (since we know you were asking) does have a club university ringette team.

8. I think Prairie Fire have an awful lot in common with Metropolis at Metrotown. Metropolis is the largest shopping centre in BC, has a little bit of everything and is located right in downtown Burnaby. Prairie Fire have an attack led by Andrea Ferguson, defence led by Lindsay Burns and great goalkeeping from both Elise Crocker and Stephanie Holden…. or, a little bit of everything. Prairie Fire will be looking to take this across-the-board strength and finish of a great season with a national championship title.

9. I think that the LMRL Thunder have become a gem of the Lower Mainland – just like Stanley Park. And like Stanley Park, the Thunder have a tree that people can’t stop talking about. Salla Kyhala was the first league scoring leader to come from the Western Conference and is the focal point of LMRL offence. She is certainly not the only threat on this team, but it is hard to take your eyes off of the MVP of the 2010 World Championships. It will however take a whole team to win the big prize in Burnaby this year.

10. I think these are my non-NRL thoughts this week:

a. I think (know) we owe thanks to the Cambridge Turbos twitter feed (@CambridgeTurbos) for the theme for this edition of the 10 Things.
b. I think if you are heading out to the national championships or the CRCs you will need to check out the closing ceremonies. The event will be held at the iconic Canada Place and will be a memorable night of ringette and of the west coast. You won’t be back in Vancouver for a while, don’t miss out on this night.
c. I think this is the first ever NRL championship tournament without a defending champion. It is a real testament to the parity in the league that the defending champion Edmonton WAM! were not able to get back to the big dance this season.
d. I think that you will have access to enough webcasts during the national championship that you can safely expect to not get much done at work that week. Pro tip: remember to open a separate window so you can quickly do ALT-TAB (to change windows) and hit the mute button when the boss comes around!