Canadian ringette team falls short at worlds, sees bright future

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Kaitlyn Youldon. File photo.

By Cameron Chaddad

Although they came up short of winning a gold medal in the World Ringette Championships, a revamped training program is giving Ottawa’s members of Team Canada hope going forward.

Barb Bautista, who is originally from Ottawa, is the head coach of Canada’s national team, which also featured three players with ties to the nation’s capital: Allison Biewald, Kaitlyn Youldon and Jasmine LeBlanc.

Ever since the previous World Championships that were held in Mississauga in 2017, Biewald has been focused on training and improving her game. The 2017 tournament was her first time being a member of Team Canada and she said it was the best ringette she’s ever been a part of.

Just before the 2017 tournament, Biewald and Youldon were shuffled to the Gatineau Fusion through a National Ringette League players draft that was carried out when their Gloucester Devils team folded. Biewald and Youldon remain on the Gatineau team today and say they’re happy with how the situation unfolded.

“The team’s been awesome,” Biewald said. “Obviously I miss my Gloucester team and it’s tough the way it happened but moving forward it’s been good.”

Youldon said her new Gatineau teammates have been welcoming and made the transition to the new squad very easy.

Between world championships, which are held every two years, Youldon and Biewald competed in High Performance Challenge Cup events. The events were created by Ringette Canada to help the development of the team game of its national players between international tournaments.

The Challenge Cup was welcomed by Biewald and Youldon as they felt it helped them maintain better chemistry with their national teammates.

Biewald noted how prior to the 2017 championships it was difficult for their team to develop chemistry quickly enough because the team’s members have played together for such a short amount of time.

Bautista also mentioned this when discussing the implementation of the Challenge Cup. She said they were seeking to “create a sustainable high-performance system” so they could improve their team performance.

Biewald noted the positive impact it’s had as “the Challenges help us engage with each other and keep in constant contact.”

Prior to the tournament, Biewald, Youldon and Bautista were excited about Canada’s chances.

“We have a lot of new people, but a really good team culture and the team seems to be meshing really well,” Youldon said before the championships.

Bautista said this year’s team was “more cohesive” compared to the 2017 version and that its members had “bought into the team culture.”

Ultimately, Canada’s team fell to Finland in their pool’s championship game at the Burnaby-held event in November. The loss meant that Canada came up short of its goal of overcoming the Finns, who knocked them out of championship contention in 2017 as well.

A bright spot in the tournament came in the junior division, which Canada’s team placed 1st in. Ottawa’s Emma Kelly was a member of that team.

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