By Ned Bekavac
They’re first in the country, and a first in the Guelph ringette record books, too.
The Guelph U16AA Predators won the coveted gold medal on the weekend at the 2014 Tim Hortons Canadian Ringette Championships in Saskatchewan.
After rolling to nine straight wins without trailing even once in those games, the gold game win, 6-5 over the Central Alberta Sting, came with some legitimate resistance.
Several emotions poured out afterwards.
“Ecstatic . . . and relieved,” said coach Todd Marrow, in describing the emotions after their win.
“It was pretty incredible.”
With the win, the Predators, who were representing Ontario at the nationals, became Guelph’s first ever Canadian ringette champion, said Marrow.
While most of their wins before the final were lopsided and they never trailed, they found themselves behind a few times in the gold-medal game.
They trailed 4-3 heading into the second and final period, with national glory on the line.
But they didn’t panic.
“I was pretty confident that we had the legs to just keep the game moving fast” and win it, said Marrow.
In the second period, Nicole Shaw scored three straight times to give Guelph a 6-4 lead.
Their foes scored with less than eight minutes left but Guelph closed out the game and the party was on.
Several players from the champs were on the team that earned national bronze last year.
They beat the Central Alberta Sting to win bronze, the team they were facing in this year’s final. Their opponents might have had hopes of revenge on their minds.
“It was a spirited game,” said Marrow.
Preds’ returnees from last season’s bronze-winning team were hungry to climb to the top of the Canadian mountain this year, and the enthusiasm spread.
“They wanted to go back, and they really wanted it,” said Marrow.
“And the girls who weren’t there last year, they really felt that energy.”
Overall this season, the team’s record was a jaw-dropping 64-2-1. One of the losses came against an U19AA Waterloo team, and the other versus London when the Preds were missing lots of players, says Marrow.
The gold win can be watched at http://tinyurl.com/ofbdvge.
The national champs will be honoured at a city council meeting on April 28.