U14 Richmond Hill Team Helsinki has ringette experience of a lifetime!, News (Richmond Hill Ringette)

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U14 Richmond Hill Team Helsinki has ringette experience of a lifetime!
Submitted By Scott Thompson on Monday, January 11, 2016
(An accounting by Alan Raphael)

Fourteen U14 Richmond Hill players departed Toronto for the adventure and experience of a lifetime – to represent the Richmond Hill Ringette Association and also Canada on an international stage.  

The team consisting of Joely Sosnovich-Raphael (D), Caroline Routledge (D), Zahra Mustin (D), Lauren Hood (F), Haleigh Beam (Ctr), Camilla Kernohan (Ctr/F), Kaitlin Han (F), Sydney Stabler (Ctr/F), Saveena Jandoo (Ctr), Kayla Moore (D), Kaylin Joy, (D/Ctr), Mary Rose Batthish (F), Matangy Kanesamoorthy (F), Emma Di Pietro (G); along with the coaching staff of Mark Stabler, Alan Raphael, Parm Jandoo, and Karen Beam; departed Toronto on a Lufthansa 747 bound for Frankfurt, Germany on December 27th. 

Arriving in Frankfurt at 8am local time (2am body time), December 28th, the U14’s had a seven-hour layover to look forward to.  Some took a train into the city to explore and find some bratwurst, others stayed and explored the airport playing the Amazing Race: Richmond Hill Lightning Edition.  Girls were challenged to find items in the airport and take selfies with it.  Some ‘amazing’ things were found including a German man wearing a Blue Jays hat.  After a two-hour flight to Stockholm, Sweden we finally arrived in time for dinner – exhausted but so excited to hit the ice the next day.
 
December 29, 2015
Fighting jet lag, the girls arrived for an exhibition game against the Sweden Stars on their home ice, the Husby Arena.  Even before we stepped on the ice, the friendships began.  As we waited on the bench for the zamboni to finish, several Swedish players were quick to come over to say hi, practice their English and say how excited they were to meet and play Canadians. 1a_Meeting_with_Team_Sweden.JPG
Our first game action overseas.  Today was the day we had looked forward to since the idea of the trip arose in early 2015.  While the girls had practiced during the six weeks leading up to the tournament, we needed to see how they would play together in a true game situation.  Comprised of three Richmond Hill U14 teams – Provincial AA, Provincial A and Regional B – with three different playbooks and styles, the girls rose to the occasion.  From the opening whistle, it was a very supportive bench no matter what team they came from or the position they played.  They were one team with the Richmond Hill Lightning logo and Canadian flag proudly displayed on their chests!
Finishing with an 8-2 victory, the girls had their first International Win!
After a quick lunch at Max’s (pronounced Maxi’s), the team was refuelled and ready for a bus tour of beautiful Stockholm, finishing with a visit to the Wasa Ship Museum – a 300 year old warship.

December 30, 2015
The calm before the storm.  
It was relaxing to spend the morning exploring Stockholm on our own.  In the afternoon we had a guided tour of the Globe Arena along with the three adjacent arenas for football (aka soccer) and hockey.  Our tour also included a ride on SkyView which was an all-glass capsule that rode to the top of the exterior of the arena and offered a beautiful view of the 2:50pm sunset.
After the Globe Arena, it was time for the Silja Serenade - our overnight cruise through the Baltic Sea bound for Helsinki, Finland.  It was a fantastic ship with a promenade of shops, restaurants, bars, casino and yes a duty free shop!  For many parents and girls, it was their first time on a cruise ship.  Following dinner, the girls explored the ship and had a blast.  However, as curfew arrived so did the rocking of the ship.  Thankfully nobody was sick but it made for a restless sleep.

December 31, 2015

The Silja Serenade arrived in Helsinki at 10:30am.  Fed and ready to go, the U14’s boarded the bus and headed straight to the Pirkkola Arena for our first two Round Robin games of the tournament.  There were 16 teams in the U14 group.  12 from Finland, three from Canada and one from Sweden.
The girls had a tough schedule ahead of them.  Coming off a restless night on a rocky ship they had to play two games back to back with just 40 minutes in between.  Placed in a four team Group A, we had to face Finland’s top teams who would end up placing 2nd, 3rd and 5th in the tournament.   The girls fought hard but ultimately lost their two games of the day, first against Hyvinkää and second against Nurmijärvi.
2a_Opening_Ceremonies.JPGThe highlight of the day was certainly the opening ceremonies.  All 16 teams took to the ice for introductions and anthems.  There was a tear in my eye to be on the ice with the girls in their red and white jerseys singing O Canada!  See the anthem here.
It was a joy to watch Swedish and Finnish teams giddy to meet and play against 'the Canadians' then have them swap Instagram accounts to stay in touch. 
But the day wasn’t over.  Up next – a New Years Eve match up of Canada and Sweden at the World Junior Hockey Championship!  Canada ended up losing the game but the atmosphere and experience was unbelievable.  Some of the girls in the crowd were shown on the TSN broadcast back home which we learned quickly as everyone’s phones started beeping with messages of ‘WE JUST SAW YOU ON TV!”

January 1, 2016
Our tough schedule continued with an 8am game following New Years Eve followed by two Playoff games.  A total of three games in a span of 5.5 hours.
Our Round Robin ended with a loss to the outstanding Jää-Kotkat Finnish team.  It was time to be seeded for Playoffs.
First up was Järvenpään Haukat.  The girls battled hard, but couldn’t overcome the hard skating and checking Finns.  Playoff game two was against Okanagan, British Columbia.  We went all that way to play a Canadian team but it was a great matchup with the girls from Richmond Hill coming away with a 5-4 win!
The advantage to having all three of our games done early afternoon allowed us time to explore the city and also catch some games at the World Ringette Championship.  The girls were in awe to see the Canadian Junior and Senior teams in action.  The speed, passing and stabbing of the ring is unlike anything they had seen.

January 2, 2016
Our final day of the Tournament had Richmond Hill up against Vancouver.  On the line – Canadian bragging rights as the top Canadian U14 team.   The girls were up for the challenge.  Jumping on the board quick, the Lightning scored first, after just 20 seconds.  Back and forth the teams battled with Richmond Hill going up 3-1 midway through the first half but Vancouver came roaring back holding a 5-3 lead at the half.  The girls kept their cool having faith in themselves and their teammates outscoring Vancouver 4-1 in the second half on route to a 7-6 win!
 
January 3, 2016
Lightning_and_Shakers_2.JPGThe last full day of the trip was an exhibition game against the Kerava Shakers.  Visiting them at their home arena 30 km outside of Helsinki, we had a heart warming start.  The Shakers, comprised of both of their U14 teams, chased after our team bus in the parking lot and, in broken English, lined up to welcome and high-five the girls as they exited the bus.  Getting inside the arena both teams warmed up together each sharing their different routines.
On the ice we had the Finnish and Canadian anthems then it was time for more fun.  The girls played a 12-minute period as separate teams in a close game.  Then both teams were mixed together for two more 12-minute periods getting to play together and learn from each other.  It was an amazing experience for the girls!  Including performing the Shakers Circle Dance on the ice following the game.  Watch it here.

Heading back to the hotel there was some time to relax, but not long as it would soon be time to head to the Helsinki Ice Hall to watch the Canadian Junior Team defeat Finland in overtime to win the World Ringette Championship!

January 4, 2016
Time to head home.  On the bus at 5am ready for a long day in the air.  First a three-hour flight from Helsinki to Frankfurt.  A three-hour layover then back on our 747 for a nine-hour flight back home to Toronto.  Landing at 4pm local time which was 11pm body time, the girls (and parents) were exhausted but still beaming from an experience of a lifetime!
 
For more pictures and highlights find us on Twitter @RHTeamHelsinki
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