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U19B Pembina Royals in tough at provincials

Province's Top 8 ringette teams in Westlock for March 24-26 tournament

WESTLOCK — Although it was a difficult, uphill battle for the U19B Pembina Royals at the eight-team 2023 U19B Provincial Ringette Championships March 24-26 at the Rotary Spirit Centre (RSC), the first-year club is proud of what they were able to accomplish as they gained invaluable experience against the best in Alberta.

The girls finished the event at 0-5 with losses to the South Calgary Trojans, 4-2, and the Medicine Chicken Hawks, 9-2, on the opening day, March 24, followed by a 3-2 defeat to the St. Albert Sting March 25 then a 7-2 loss to the Lacombe Edge later that day. The club’s season came to an official end March 26 in a 5-3 defeat at the hands of the Red Deer Rush — the Medicine Hat Chicken Hawks won the provincial title and defeated the Calgary NW Aces 4-3.

Royals head coach Kyley Belton said they were incredibly proud of the girls considering this is the first time the association has iced a team at the U19 level. During the regular season the Royals finished in the middle of the pack in their league, while a highlight was a gold medal they earned at a tournament in Red Deer back in January.

“We know there are so many positives. Obviously they didn’t want to come in (to provincials) hosting and lose every game, but everybody was in good spirits. We’re looking at what we accomplished this season and not what we didn’t accomplish,” she said.

“We just told them to go out there, have fun and play hard. We didn’t want them hanging their heads. They made provincials in a brand new division which in itself is very successful. We’re proud of them and we want them to be proud of themselves.”   

In their final game against Red Deer, like many of their other games at provincials, the girls faced challenges like having a smaller, younger roster but they also ran into penalty trouble and were down two players several times.

“Especially against Medicine Hat, we really got into penalty trouble and they’re probably the strongest team here,” said Belton. “That (five on three) happened quite a few times so then you’re just chasing the game.”   

And despite not being able to score a ‘W’ at the event, the team and the association received encouraging words from other clubs, as well as their friends, family members and the community.   

“It was a very positive experience and I think all the teams that came here had a lot of fun and enjoyed the community,” said Belton, noting they are already looking to an exciting future as many of the U16 players who recently won gold in Medicine Hat will be playing at the U19 level next season.

“Going into next year we know we’re going to have a stronger team, we’re going to have that experience and I know that’s going to be a huge advantage for us. We’re really excited and looking forward to next season with the experience and the skill that we have.”

Kristine Jean,

Kristine Jean

About the Author: Kristine Jean

Kristine Jean joined the Westlock News as a reporter in February 2022. She has worked as a multimedia journalist for several publications in Ontario, Saskatchewan and Alberta, and enjoys covering community news, breaking news, sports and arts.
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