Vernon ringette stars

Vernon ringette stars

Ringette stars bound for nationals

Just call it bonus time for Emma Carter, Evangeline Koshure and Kendra Ostafie.

Just call it bonus time for Emma Carter, Evangeline Koshure and Kendra Ostafie.

The Vernon Adrenaline Rush teens thought their ringette season was over when they lost 2-0 to Kelowna in the B.C. U16A final just over a month ago at Kal Tire Place.

A call from coaches with the Lower Mainland U16AA Thunder (representing team B.C.) prolonged their year. The trio will form a forward line at the Tim Hortons Canadian Ringette Championships, starting Monday in Fort McMurray.

A total of 37 teams will compete in three divisions – U16, U19 and the National Ringette League (NRL – 19+). There are 15 teams in the U16AA division.

Cathy Lipsett of Salmon Arm, coach of Team B.C. at the Canada Winter Games in Prince George, recommended the threesome to the Thunder. They give B.C. added depth.

“Kendra is a tall center that has a good defensive reach being able to strip the ring away from her opponent,” said Lipsett. “Kendra has quick hands and a good eye and a knack of finding the back of the net. Emma is a forward who is a tenacious checker who never quits. Emma’s linemates like to play with her because she is generous with the ring but she can be creative scoring goals.

“Evan is an adaptable player. As a defenceman, she reads her opponents well, making it difficult to get around her. Evan is a finesse skater with great speed who can also step into a forward position and add points to the scoreboard.”

Koshure, a 5-foot-8 all-round athlete, will make the switch from d-man to winger with some apprehension. She and Ostafie got in one exhibition game with Team B.C. against a Vancouver 18+ side.

“I’m terrified,” deadpanned the 14-year-old “It (playing wing) was a lot easier than I expected in the exhibition game so I hope I don’t have any reason to be scared.”

The Grade 9 Seaton student, who also excels in Rep soccer, volleyball and basketball, quickly noticed the pace of the AA workouts.

“They all want to win really bad and are very competitive. They work harder in practice than we do. It’s a higher intensity.”

Ostafie is a 5-foot-8 centre who turns 16 in late April. She expects the three to find instant chemistry at nationals.

“Me and Emma have been playing together and Evan has been our defenceman so we work together well with our speed,” said Ostasfie, a Grade 10 VSS student. “We have about five plays where we yell out something like ally-oop, drop pass or Simon. Me and Emma make one another look good because we know what we’re going to do.”

Ostafie hopes to play ringette at University of Calgary upon graduation. She also enjoys skiing.

Carter celebrated her 15th birthday on New Year’s Day. She was in Mexico when Team B.C. had the exhibition game.

She has received lots of coaching from her dad, Warren, a graduate of the University of Alaska -Fairbanks Nanooks hockey program. Warren coached the Vernon U16s in the provincials.

“So far, so good,” she laughed, when asked how the coach-daughter relationship has gone. “He taught me how to skate and to always be in the play by looking around.

“I’m a playmaker and Kendra is definitely the goal scorer so we kind of complement one another.”

The Grade 9 VSS student, who used to play the piano, tried hockey for the first time this year, playing forward for Arnie Head’s Sladen Moore Lakers. She finds the two sports are great for cross-training.

B.C. assistant coach Rod Needham, of Surrey, said all three girls skate hard and play the game with finesse. He, head coach Ian Liversidge and assistant Judy Young, scouted Vernon and Kelowna teams and compiled a list of players they felt could handle the tempo and compete level.

“When the email came through with the names and numbers of the girls that were interested in joining team B.C. at Nationals, the exact three names the coaches had hoped would apply had done so,” said Needham.

“This also speaks to the kind of athletes they are. The kind of athletes that even after a setback such as losing to Kelowna in provincials, set that aside and seek additional competition at the next level. This speaks to their spirit and love of the game.”

Added Needham, on the Vernon players being on the same line: “Lots of kids can shoot a ring, but these girls have played together for so many years they seem to have a sixth sense of where their teammate will be in the offensive zone.”

Team B.C. opens the nationals Monday morning against the Calgary Pursuit and then battle New Brunswick that afternoon. Both games are at Frank Lacroix Arena.