Saturday, September 25, 2010
Thursday, September 23, 2010
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
Sunday, September 19, 2010
Ringette - A Quick Primer
For a quick look at the game here is a video on Youtube courtesy of the CBC : ringette at a glance.
Currently, Finland and Canada are the top two countries in the sport. Both have strong national teams which usually meet in the finals of the World Ringette Championship.
The World Championship started in 1990 and is held in November every two years. There have been six world championships to date (a summit series between Canada and Finland was held in 1998). Canada has won four and Finland has won three.
Finland is the current champion having defeated Canada in Sweden last November 2004. For all the details see here.
The rules ensure passing, skating and teamwork are part of every game. The game combines the fast-break of basketball, the dexterity of lacrosse, the speed of hockey and the fitness of soccer. The sport has some similarities to hockey. It's played on ice with skates and sticks by six players on each of two teams. And the players' mission is to score goals by shooting the object of play into nets at either end of the rink during stop-time periods of play.
But that's where the comparisons really end. The stick is straight (no blade). The object being pursued by players is a rubber ring, not a puck. There is no intentional body contact. There are two 20-minute periods. And the rules of ringette make it a wide-open and dynamic sport.
The emphasis is on play-making and skating skills. Players cannot carry the ring across the blue lines, they have to pass it across. Teams have six skaters: a goalie, two defense, a center and two forwards.
Both teams are allowed only three skaters in the offensive zone - not including the goalie. Typically this means that the offensive team has two forwards and a center while the defensive team has their center and two defense. The offensive zone extends to the Free Play Line - the thin blue line at the top of the face off circles. If the defensive team has more than three skaters in their zone during the last two minutes of a game a penalty shot can be called; at other times they lose possession.
The ring carrier can not carry the ring in either direction over the Blue Line - this is Off-side. The ring must be passed over the blue line to another team mate. The team mate has usually skated ahead of the ring carrier and is already across the Blue Line. This is the total reverse of hockey where the puck must cross the Blue Line before any offensive player does. This eliminates the situation where one player can carry the ring from one end to the other. Passing is a requirement.
Neither team is allowed to have skaters in the crease. If the team with the ring has a skater in the crease then they lose possession. If a player attempts to take the ring out of the crease they lose the ring. If the offensive team loses the ring it is a Goalie Ring. If the defensive team loses the ring then the offensive team gains the ring on a Free-Pass in the attacking zone.
On a Goalie Ring the goalie is given five seconds to throw the ring towards a team mate. The referee counts the seconds by extending his/her arm.
If the ring is in the crease the goalie has five seconds to get rid of it by either hitting it with her stick or picking it up and throwing it. If the ring is thrown beyond the Blue Line then the offensive team re-gains possession on a Free-Pass.
Face-Offs in ringette are like free kicks in soccer and are called Free-Pass. The ring is placed in the appropriate face-off circle. On the whistle one player then takes possession and has five seconds to either shoot or pass to a team mate; they cannot 'carry' the ring out of the circle. During this five seconds no other player is allowed in the face-off circle.
There is no icing as in hockey, however a two-line pass (across both blue lines) is an Off-Side; i.e. the center line does not come into play.
Penalties, similar to hockey, are called for various infractions. Body checking is not allowed, however incidental body contact is permitted if the player is legitimately fighting for ring control. The usual way to get the ring back from the opposing team is to "check" the stick, this is permitted if contact is made in the lower two-thirds of the stick. Higher contact is considered high sticking or slashing depending on the outcome of the missed stick check.
When a team is two players short they can only have two skaters in their defensive zone.
Like hockey, ringette divisions are split up by age and skill level (i.e. "A", "B", "C"). Instead of mite, novice, atom, bantam, midget and junior divisions, ringette has bunny, novice, petite, tween, junior, belle and open divisions.
A recent rule change has introduced the 30 second shot clock. This was introduced into the game in order to avoid "ring ragging" which is a strategy used by some teams once they attain a good lead. Currently all competitive teams of age greater than 11 years old use the shot clock. Provincial, national and international games and tournaments us the shot clocks as well.