The Friends On Ice Ringette tournament is always the biggest of the year for Red Deer Ringette.
The 34th edition, which gets underway Friday morning is another behemoth event with close to 60 teams and nearly 1000 athletes ready to play in the three-day tournament.
Many of the teams participating will be from Alberta, with a few making the trek all the way from Saskatchewan.
The opportunity that presents according to one of the organizers Anita Joa, is a chance to showcase the provinces’ best players, who will descend on Red Deer next year for the 2019 Canada Winter Games.
“When we look at the tournament and with the push going into next year will be the Canada Winter Games, some of these girls at the U19 might even be playing for Alberta. Seeing them here at this level and cheer them on and at the next level will be fantastic,” Joa said.
Friends On Ice features young players in the under six category, all the way up to the under 19 age group and even a few women’s teams. Will all the age groups here for the event, it also provides a chance for young players to see where they can go in the sport.
“With Red Deer Ringette they focus on skill development and sportsmanship. To watch these girls skate is absolutely amazing. I can’t believe how fast-paced the game is,” Joa added.
There’s also been an adjustment in the schedule for the tournament, after the leak that effected the Kinex Arena earlier this week. Those games have been moved to the Collicutt Centre.
Play starts on Friday morning at 7:30 a.m. at the Collicutt and continues all day Saturday and into Sunday.
Considering a handful of Central Alberta players like Red Deer’s Breanna Beck and Lacombe’s Dailyn Bell, Jamie Bell, Lindsay Vink and Gillian Dreger all represented Canada at the Worlds in December, there’s plenty of potential to move forward with ringette.
“There are opportunities in ringette to definitely go farther than just U19,” Joa said.
“I think that it can be featured here in Canada or you can go overseas to play in world-class events is amazing.”
Scoring for the tournament will also be updated in real time at the tournament page.