Nova Scotia proved they’ll be a force to be reckoned with at the 2019 Canada Winter Games on the opening day of ringette.
They made a statement to kick off The Games, stunning host Alberta 8-5 at the Collicutt Saturday.
Behind the strong play of netminder Grace MacKenzie, who made 50 saves in the victory and hat tricks from Emma Simpson and Taylor Grey, Nova Scotia got off to the start they had hoped for.
“It’s a big deal for this group of players,” said Nova Scotia head coach Tracey Tulloch.
“We’ve had some good performances absolutely but to get the win that’s a big confidence boost for those girls. They know they can play with these teams and they know they can beat these. It’s a good way to start.”
Some raucous fan support of some well-traveled parents and athletes also helped Nova Scotia jumped out to a 3-0 lead at halftime over Alberta.
“I think we had all the mission staff here and all the players have some family and siblings here. They’re excited to be here. Red Deer has been a great host so far. The energy in the building helped us,” Tulloch added.
It was the host team’s turn in the third quarter when they rallied to tie the game at four and took the lead into the final frame. Early in the fourth, Nova Scotia snuck one past the Alberta goalie and added a pair of insurance markers to pick up the victory.
“I thought our third quarter was fantastic and that’s the way that our team plays,” said Team Alberta coach Heather Konkin.
“For a lot of our athletes, this is a major event and their first experience in an event like this So I think the crowd and the nerves were there a little bit.”
MacKenzie, a goalie with the Canadian Junior National team that won silver in 2017 closed the door on Alberta late in the game and was a rock all night for Nova Scotia.
“I know that’s what she can do. That’s why she’s here and that’s why she started this game. We have all the faith in the world in her,” Tulloch said.
“When she fights for it, she fights for all of us and saves us a lot.”
Victoria Shennan had a hat trick for Team Alberta, while Kaley Bilyk and Kaitlyn Zipp added goals for the host side.
In the early Pool A game Saturday, Manitoba beat New Brunswick 8-5. In Pool B, Quebec beat P.E.I. 14-1 and Ontario knocked off Saskatchewan 8-4.
Nova Scotia will play Manitoba Sunday and Alberta squares off with New Brunswick on Monday.