Written by Darren Love
Ringette is a team sport that is played on ice, the object of the game is to shoot a rubber ring into the oppositions net using a straight stick to carry, and pass the ring. Ringette was developed in Canada for girls and is like floor hockey on ice, though is often mis-characterized as "little sister to hockey." While players skate on the same ice surface as hockey, the game has far more in common strategy-wise with basketball, soccer and even lacrosse. Ringette gives a great upper body cardiovascular workout and, like hockey, helps with development of both leg strength and endurance.
Ringette was invented by Sam Jacks, the director of Parks and Recreation in North Bay, Ontario in the 1960s to develop an ice skating game for females, and was first played in 1963 in Espanola, Ontario. Since then ringette has spread across Canada, becoming one of Canada's top female sports with over 50,000 participants.
Ringette teams consist of 11 to 17 players, with six skaters on the ice at a time: a goalie, two defense, a center and two forwards. Similar to the start of a soccer game, ringette is started by a Free Pass. When the whistle is blown, the player has five seconds to pass the ring to a teammate. This team-oriented game prohibits a player from carrying the ring the full length of the ice, and the ring must be passed over each blue line to another player, involving more players in each scoring attempt.
No intentional contact is allowed in ringette with rules geared towards player safety. Penalties are given when contact does occur, including tripping and interference. The penalties can range from 2 minutes to 4 minute "major" if the referee believes contact was intentional.
Protective equipment is needed to protect players from crashes into the boards around the ice surface, as well as falls on the ice itself. Mandatory equipment includes CSA-approved helmet and face masks, BNQ-approved Neck Protectors, Elbow Pads, Gloves, Hip/Tailbone protection, knee pads, hockey skates, uniform jersey, and a ringette stick. Optional equipment includes shoulder pads, a mouth guard, and shin guards. Equipment can run from $100 and up. Some equipment can be rented or bought used at league sales before each season. .
There are several leagues and facilities for ringette in the Niagara region. Contact the Jordan Ringette Association (905-562-3769), Niagara Falls Ringette League (905-357-3391), St Catharines Ringette Association (905-935-0852), or your local parks & recreation department.