WESTLOCK — The U19 Pembina Royals will welcome ringette players from across the province when they host the 2023 U19 Provincial Ringette Championships March 24-26 at the Rotary Spirit Centre (RSC).
Not only is this the first season for a U19 team within the association, it is also the first time Westlock will host provincials at this level. The three-day event will also feature a banquet, opening ceremonies, raffle draw and dance.
“All the teams in the province look forward to going to the provincials and making it to the provincials,”, said head coach Kyley Belton, noting the team’s third-place finish at provincial playdowns. “We aren’t just the host team, we also made it and we earned our spot in provincials.”
The Royals participated in mandatory provincial playdowns in early March and finished in third place in the Black Gold League, after posting a 3-3 record. Belton said they used the playdowns to help prepare for the provincial championships and improve in areas they may need to work on. “These last few practices we focused on the areas that we need to build our strength in,” she said, noting the team has worked on their offense, passing, moving the ring, and positioning themselves to make a play.
The association will welcome teams from as far south as Calgary and Medicine Hat said Belton, noting “we haven’t played a lot of those teams this season” with the exception of Medicine Hat, who they did square off against in October. “We know they’re a strong team and we know the south typically has strong teams.”
Belton said it’s an exciting opportunity for both younger players who look up to the U19 Royals and for the team itself, who she wants “to play with confidence, play their best and enjoy the experience.”
“Our players are great role models and I know a lot of the younger girls look up to them and enjoy watching their games,” said Belton. “Not everyone gets to experience a provincial tournament in their lifetime so for them, this is an accomplishment, this is something they’ve worked for so you want them to enjoy the whole weekend — enjoy the games, enjoy the off-ice stuff and watching the other teams that are here from other cities. We want everyone coming here to have a great experience (and) it to be a great event for all the teams.”
On March 25 from 3-4 p.m. the association is hosting a “come try it event” where members of the public are invited to come out and try the sport of ringette and those interested in attending must register online here.