February was one wild ride for the Hinton Xtreme U16 ringette squad with a myriad of ups and downs on the quest for a berth at the provincial championships.
It’s a berth they thought they’d earned with an improbably 9-0 win over Sherwood Park during Round 1 of the North Division playdowns held Feb. 15 – 16 in Hinton.
That margin of victory was enough to give them top spot in a three-way tiebreaker and a spot at provincials in Medicine Hat in March – or so they thought.
“It’s been a roller coaster couple of weeks,” said team manager Aliccia Hollingsworth.
Ringette Alberta had originally accepted the results but then revoked the qualification and gave the spot to St. Albert.
Xtreme coach Les Rushfeldt said the berth was reversed due to a rule that limits wins to no more than seven goals, meaning the most Hinton could officially beat Sherwood Park by was a 7-0 score.
That left Hinton and St. Albert with the same goal differential in the round robin at plus three, and Sherwood Park was eliminated with a minus eight goal differential.
After Sherwood Park was eliminated Ringette Alberta applied the head to head record of the two remaining squads, which favoured St. Albert.
“The really frustrating part is Ringette Alberta posted on the website that we advanced to provincials so we were very excited!” said Rushfeldt, adding that somebody probably challenged the ruling to force the reversal.
“The girls were crushed and still are, its been a pretty terrible end to our season.”
That Ringette Alberta decision meant Hinton had one more chance to qualify in Round 2 the following weekend, competing against the Sherwood Park Force, the Spruce Grove Attack and Beaumont Rush for the last provincial spot.
A bad break struck Hinton in the first period of the opening game against Spruce Grove when goalie Tegan Hills left the game with a fractured knee cap.
The injury forced Maya Callihoo into action between the pipes, despite having no practice this season.
Callihoo and the Xtreme lost to Spruce Grove by a 5-3 score, with Kennedy Davy, Kyara Bishop an Alyssa Klaver scoring for Hinton, and Ella Kempin adding an assist.
The loss meant Hinton needed to win out its final two games and get some help from other teams to keep their provincial dreams alive.
Hinton held up their part of the equation with convincing wins of 11-6 over Sherwood Park and 11-7 over Beaumont.
Bishop drove the offence against Sherwood Park, notching six goals and two assists.
Ella Kempin had a pair of goals as well, and Ava Muyres, Makenna Rushfeldt and Klaver had one each.
Kaydence Hollingsworth and Bryn Dammann had two assists each, while Elsa Niveri, Gracey Kempin and Emily French had one assist each.
Muyres scored the winning goal against Beaumont, her third of the game, with only 3:50 remaining and Hinton tacked on three more for the 11-7 win.
Hollingsworth, Bishop and Davy had two goals each and Ella Kempin added one of her own.
Niveri capped off the season, her first in ringette, on a high note with her first career goal with only 1:35 remaining.