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Ringette ends season on a high note

The Nipissing University Ringette Club played their final event of the season at a tournament in Niagara Falls, where they met teams from four other schools from across Ontario and proved that they can compete with the best teams in the province.

“Last year, we played at the ‘B’ level, and we had success.  With our new lineup this year, we decided to challenge ourselves and competed at ‘A’ all year,” explained Head Coach Jeff Francom. “No medals, but great improvement and we are well placed for success at 'A' next season.”

In their first game, Nipissing met the team from St. Clair College. An exciting affair for the fans, there was no shortage of scoring as Nipissing won by a score of 10-6.

“All our lines were clicking, making great passes and using deceptive playmaking to keep their goalie guessing about our attack,” said Francom.

Deanna Noel lead the team with four goals, followed by Lauren Blinkhorn (3), Aly Stewart (2) and Mel Harkes (1).

In the second game, the locals met up with Carleton, who had beaten Nipissing in their previous matches this year. A fast paced first period left the score even at 0-0. Although both teams had chances, the goalies showed off their skills, with neither team scoring until Carleton broke the draw in the second period on a goal by Samantha Flavell.  Caitlynne Spykerman kept things close in the Nipissing net, stopping difficult shot after difficult shot. With the score 2-0 for Carleton, Emily Cole scored for Nipissing to make it a 1-goal game with 2:34 left in the game.  

Hoping for a tie, the Nipissing coaching staff instructed the players to take more chances and be more aggressive in the Nipissing zone.  Unfortunately, Carleton took advantage of that strategy and scored another goal a minute later to seal the game.

With a record of 1-1 at this point, Nipissing had to defeat both Brock and McMaster in order to make it to the finals. Their first game was against Brock, who has a history of close games against Nipissing. This game was no different. Brock opened the scoring 5 minutes into the game, but Nipissing replied 3 minutes later on a goal by Aly Stewart to end the first period tied 1-1. The first period also featured a great defensive effort by Nipissing, with goalie Tori Blendeman putting on an amazing display of athletics to help the team kill almost 4 minutes of penalties with two players in the box.  “The fans were buzzing over Tori and her goaltending during that shorthanded situation,” said Coach Francom.

In the second period, Brock opened a 3-1 lead. Things looked bleak until Lauren Blinkhorn blazed into the Brock zone and sniped an amazing backhander at an impossible angle through the five-hole to get Nipissing within one goal. Sadly, Brock replied a few minutes later with a goal of their own.  A late goal by Deanna Noel got the team close but they failed to catch up, losing 4-3 in a heartbreaker that eliminated Nipissing from any chance to reach the finals.

Their fourth game against McMaster was meaningless in the standings – McMaster had already qualified for the finals and Nipissing was already eliminated.  This did not stop Nipissing from putting in a good effort, especially the goaltending by Caitlynne Spykerman but in the end, McMaster won by a score of 5-0.

“This was our greatest effort of the year. The ladies showed great improvement from their first games in Oshawa last October and they represented their team and their school with pride,” said Coach Francom.  “I’m already eager to see how we do next year.”   
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