Sports

Ravens make case for best in the west

Richmond Ravens Peewee A girls
Richmond Ravens Peewee A girls' hockey team celebrates its gold medal victory at the Sherwood Park invitational.
— image credit: sub

The top Peewee girls’ hockey team in B.C. may also be No. 1 in the west.

They at least made a good case for that claim last weekend in Edmonton by winning the prestigious Sherwood Park “A” classic which featured the top six Alberta clubs and the best from Saskatchewan.

“I am so proud of our girls,” said Richmond Ravens’ coach Tony Lindsay, whose club wrapped up the gold medal with a final-game overtime victory over Red Deer—the No. 1 team in Alberta which entered the tournament undefeated.

In a rematch with a Chiefs’ team they earlier edged 3-2 to finish first in round-robin play, the Ravens jumped out to a quick 1-0 lead on a goal by Kirsten Abo. Naomi Choong extended the lead to 2-0 early in the third period of the intense game before Red Deer made a late comeback by scoring twice in the final 10 minutes of regulation to force overtime. A five-minute period, played four-on-four, settled nothing, so it was on to a three-on-three player shootout. After each team had shot twice, with Red Deer up 1-0, Choong scored and goalie Jenna Ehling then stopped the third Reed Deer shooter. In dramatic fashion, Madison Warren then scored to put Richmond up 2-1 and when Ehling stopped the final Red Deer shooter the Ravens’ bench erupted in jubilation.

Lindsay prepared the Ravens for what he expected to be a challenging set of games.

“I wasn’t sure how we were going to compete and the level of play,” he said.

“(For the most part) they were definitely bigger than our girls and the rural teams were more physical because they often play a lot of boys’ teams  out of necessity. Their players had some very good individual skills and could shoot the puck hard, but their transition game wasn’t what our was and that was the difference. Their coaches noted that too, suggesting they’d rarely seen a Pewee girls’ team move the puck as well as the Ravens.”

The Ravens’ skills positively reflect the Richmond girls’ ice hockey association’s emphasis on skill development. Lindsay has further emphasized them with this team, particularly making plays with the puck.

“I was surprised how (opponents) games were very north-south, while we do a lot of plays across the ice,” he said. “We like to go defenceman-to-defenceman and then move it up the ice. We were able to really spread the ice against their teams and enjoyed a number of two-on-ones and three-on-two breaks.”

An aggressive forecheck is another successful trait of the Ravens. It garned many scoring opportunities as a result.

“We like to get teams back on their heels and them force them to react to us,” said Lindsay. “Our defence, which is outstanding, also did a great job of locking down the opposition at centre. Two compliments we got often was the structure of our play and good puck movement.”

Richmond began the tournament with a 3-0 victory over the Edmonton Rebels and then outscored the Calgary Avengers 9-2. They coasted to a 6-0 quarter-final win over the Grande Prairie Knights and defeated the Avengers, in a rematch, 7-3 in the semifinals.

The Ravens now sport an overall record of 26-1-1 and remain undefeated in league play.

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