The 2012 Tim Hortons Canadian Ringette Championships

By Mario Bartel – Burnaby NewsLeader
Published: November 15, 2011 9:00 PM

Forty-eight teams of top athletes will be skating rings around rinks in Burnaby and New Westminster in April. Or should that be ringettes?

The 2012 Tim Hortons Canadian Ringette Championships will be contested in Burnaby and New Westminster April 8-14 with a new expanded format that brings more than 2600 players, officials, family and fans to the area. Games will be played at Copeland Arena and Canlan 8 Rinks in Burnaby and Moody Park Arena in New Westminster.

While previous championships were contested only by the champions from the various provinces, those champions will be joined by other top teams that have expressed interest in playing in the tournament. The final allotment of eligible entrants from each province was determined by a special draw held at Copeland Arena on Tuesday.

“This change in format will certainly make things more exciting and it will also give more athletes the opportunity to experience the feeling that goes with competing at the highest level,” said David Patterson, the executive direcotr of Ringette Canada.

For the local organizing committee, the tournament will be the culmination of three years of planning.

“I think it may increase the overall level of the game,” said Randy Wall, the host committee’s chair. “There’s some very high calibre teams that are out there and this may increase the difficulty of winning.”

For Wall and his committee of about two dozen volunteers, the event will be the culmination of three years of work to bring the nationals back to the Lower Mainland for the first time in 20 years. It’s also a chance to show off a sport that has only about 2300 participants in British Columbia, 23,000 nation wide.

“It’s a small sport,” says Wall. “Hockey is king to most people but we’d like to broaden the awareness base about ringette.”

To that end his committee is reaching out to leadership students at local high schools to help them fulfill their volunteer requirements by helping out at the tournament. Wall figures he’ll need to tap into about 400 volunteers during the competition, taking care of things like registration, inputing stats, running game sheets, manning the penalty boxes.

Wall is also hoping to forge a relationship with elementary schools, sending athletes and coaches to gym classes to teach kids about the game, then organizing field trips to watch some of the action.

It’s a lot to put on the plate of a small association like Burnaby/New West, which has only 150 players and 10 teams. But they’ve got plenty of experience hosting their annual Icebreaker tournament, which attracted 60 teams last weekend, and last year’s provincials, which they used as a dry run for the big show in April.

“I think it’s going to be pretty positive,” said Wall. “We’re pretty proud to show off our town.”

And their sport.

For more information about the tournament, follow the links at www.ringette.ca

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