By Sonny Sachdeva, January 19, 2016 —
While they may not get the same recognition as many of the University of Calgary’s varsity programs, the Dinos ringette team is no sideshow. The club ranks as one of the top ringette teams in the country and recently proved as much at the 2016 University Challenge Cup.
Hosting the event at Canada Olympic Park from Dec. 29 to Jan. 1, the Dinos dominated from the first game, opening their bid with a 5–0 victory over Carleton University. The U of C continued their exceptional showing throughout the rest of the round robin portion of the tournament, earning wins over the University of Lethbridge, Dalhousie University and Western University, while dropping only two of their first six games.
Ranked second heading into the final round, the Dinos earned a shot at the top-ranked University of Ottawa for the gold medal.
The Dinos wasted no time putting their offensive dominance on display. They opened the scoring just 1:27 into the match, improving their lead to 5–0 within the next nine minutes. Quashing Ottawa’s comeback attempts at every turn, the Dinos finished the contest with a dominant 10–3 victory to earn gold on home ice.
This victory marks the eighth time the U of C has finished as tournament champions since the event began nearly two decades ago, and the first time they’ve done so in the past four years.
While the gold medal victory was a significant step forward for the team, program manager Kim Fuller said the final game may not have been the team’s most important win during the tournament.
“The win the night before, beating out Northern Alberta, that was probably the more exciting one,” Fuller said. “They won the last four years and they’ve kind of always been our archrival. It was fantastic to beat that team.”
She believes the team’s new coaching staff played a significant role in allowing the Dinos to find success this season.
“We have quite a few new, younger girls and we have a lot more speed,” Fuller said. “The coaching staff has changed this year, and they have a totally different philosophy than previous years. They concentrate more on going out and having fun rather than the pressure of winning all the time.”
Despite the team’s recent first-place finish, the Dinos ringette team remains somewhat out of the loop when it comes to gaining support from the University of Calgary. Fuller believes their status as a club team is a key obstacle.
“We don’t get too much support through our contact at the U of C,” Fuller said. “I hate to say that, but I think because we’re not a varsity team — because we’re just a club team — we’re not considered to be, in my opinion, as important as the varsity teams. We totally get that, but it would be nice to get a little bit of support.”
The team’s play this season certainly seems to merit increased support. The club currently ranks first in the top division of the Calgary Open Ringette Association (CORA), holding a 12–3–1 record through 16 games. Their season has been a resurgent one so far, as the Dinos’ top-ranked effort comes after back-to-back years of finishing sixth among the division’s seven teams.
Balance has been crucial in attaining that first-place ranking — the Dinos have been among the best in the league both offensively and defensively this season, ranking second with 86 goals scored and tied for first with only 56 goals allowed.
The Dinos now look ahead to the CORA Classic, which will take place at Canada Olympic Park from Jan. 21–24.
Information regarding the CORA Classic tournament can be found at CORACalgaryClassic.com