The Winnipeg East ringette team was truly focused on bringing together the region’s best players in advance of the Power Smart Manitoba Winter Games.
Age was truly just a number as head coach Tom Mark and assistants Danielle Edgington and Jen Krywy pared a tryout roster of 60 to 17 as to assemble the squad that will compete in Morden, Winkler, and the RM of Stanley from March 2 to 8.
There were two rounds of tryouts before the coaching squad decided to watch players with their club teams to make the final selections of players from the Transcona, River East, and Bonivital catchment areas.
"We’ve got girls in the U-12 and the U-14 age categories," Mark said. "We probably have the youngest team, because we took more U-12s than most of the other teams.
"From what we understand, every other team, when they got their tryout list, they had the birth years on it. We didn’t, so we picked the kids we felt were the best at that time in the tryouts. We didn’t know how many U-12s we took."
Mark noted that some of the players on the squad are so talented that they’ve been age-advanced. One U-12-eligible player is in the U-14 league, while a U-14-eligible player is in a U-16 circuit.
The team has played exhibition matches with its other opponents — Winnipeg West, Central, and Interlake — from the Games in order to determine where it matches up. Mark has noticed the strengths of the team through the games.
"We’re a quick team. We’ve got a lot of good shooters. We’re not as big as some of the other teams, but we’ll use speed," Mark said. "I’ve got two philosophies in playing the game. One is ‘speed kills’ and the other one is ‘shooting seals the deal.’ If they can use their speed and use their shots, I think we’ve got a good chance of doing very well, if not winning."
Alexsi Kavvadas, who represents Dakota at the club level, said she’s been able to take her game to an extra level with the region’s elite players and coaches in one place. She added the team is coming together well.
"We communicate, and it’s really easy for us to connect with each other," she said. "We work well on the ice."
Two players were really appreciative of the opportunity to make the team, including one who felt she was a long shot for the team during tryouts, but making the team has given her a major boost of confidence.
"I just really didn’t think I was going to make it, but then I made it, and I was really excited," said Southdale’s Kari White.
"I was really happy, excited," added River East’s Kaiaira Boyechko.