Fastest game on ice?

March 23, 2015

It’s similar to hockey but it is not quite the same.

Those who play it — with all due respect to hockey — call it the “fastest game on ice.”

We are talking ringette here.

And this week, from Thursday through Sunday, the Sault Ringette Club is playing host to the Northeast Ontario regional championships.

Teams from Atikokan, Iroquois Falls, North Bay, Sudbury, Thunder Bay, Timmins and Sault Ste. Marie featuring players four years of age and older — much older, in some cases — will converge at the John Rhodes, McMeeken and Rankin arenas for the regional playdowns.

Three local players, who have been playing the sport together for 32 years — Shelli Donofrio-Ubriaco, Julie Stocks and Debbie Desgagne — are part of the Sault Ice Hawks team that will compete in the open division.

Thirty-two years as teammates?

“We are the oldest players in the local league that we play in,” said Donofrio-Ubriaco.

“In fact, we are 10 years older than the next-oldest players,” Stocks added with a laugh.

Besides playing, the trio are also involved as executive members and coaches within the Sault Ringette Club.

Both Stocks and Desgagne also have daughters who play ringette.

As players, the troika was dubbed the “Geritol Line” 10 years ago by their coach and mentor, Wayne Spencer.

“That was 10 years ago, I wonder what he calls us now,” smiled Donofrio-Ubriaco.

As for ringette as a sport, it does appear to be the same as hockey, at first glance.

But not quite, as Desgagne pointed out.

“Yes, it appears the same as hockey as it is played on ice and players wear the same protective equipment, with the same number of players and a goalie,” Desgagne began. “But ringette has several unique rules that add to the complexity of the sport.

“For example, only three players are permitted in the offensive or defensive zone at any one time — that is, a centre and two defenceman or a centre and two forwards. Team work is key in ringette, in part because of the requirement to pass the ring over each blue line on every possession.

“Therefore, a single player cannot have possession of the ring from the defensive zone all the way to the offensive zone. Also, no player is permitted in the goalie’s crease…you can’t even skate through it,” she added.

PHOTO: The “Geritol Line” of Julie Stocks, Shelli Donofrio-Ubriaco and Debbie Desgagne. (Photo by Ali Pearson.)

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