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‘We want to grow the sport’: Manitoba Herd ringette team host top talent

The highest level of ringette in Canada was showcased in Winnipeg this weekend.

The Manitoba Herd, part of the National Ringette League (NRL), hosted the three other teams from across western Canada, the BC Thunder, Calgary RATH and Saskatchewan Heat.

“We are peaking at the perfect time right now,” Herd captain Raeanne Wysocki said. “Nationals is looking really good for us. We need a couple more wins to put us in a good spot, but I think we are all in good spirits and our game play is amazing.”

Teams in the NRL play in ‘hub style’ tournaments throughout the season. This weekend, the Herd hosted its one and only hub weekend.

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Manitoba beat Saskatchewan 7-5 but lost 3-2 to Calgary and 7-6 to BC.

“I kind of broke the season down into multiple pieces and I look at this as kind of like the third part,” Herd head coach Andrea Ferguson said.

“The start was good, the middle part we had a lot of things to work and now part three right before nationals we’re really coming together as a team, different systems are starting to work.”

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With nationals less than a month away, Herd assistant captain Sam Heinemann say it was great motivation to play in front of their home crowd.

“We want to grow the sport,” Heinemann said. “That’s the most important thing, is growing ringette in Manitoba. We want everyone to come out and we want the younger kids to come see us play and watch us and want to be where we are one day.”

Despite the 1-2 weekend record, Ferguson was also pleased with the fan turnout and the example her athletes are setting for the next generation.

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“When we played Calgary, there were probably 250 people in the stands, which doesn’t sound like a lot but for a ringette game, it is,” Ferguson said. “Maybe a third of those were kids under 16, so for them to be able to see and look up to the athletes, it gives them something to strive for.”

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The Herd has one more hub-style tournament this month before heading to Regina for nationals April 9-15.

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