Team USA is tied for second place at the 2016 World Ringette Championships in Helsinki, Finland after five days of play.
With Comox Valley players Haley Hill and Heather Oliphant in their lineup, Team USA beat Team Sweden U20 7-6 on Dec. 27, topped Team Czech 14-4 on Dec. 28, blanked Team Slovakia 16-0 on Dec. 29, fell 21-0 to Team Finland U20 on Dec. 30 then lost 19-0 to Team Canada U21 on Dec. 31.
With a 3-2 record, Team USA is even with Team Sweden (3-2) in the seven-team President’s Pool. Team Canada U21 and Team Finland U20 share first place with 5-0 records.
Team USA finishes pool play Jan. 1 against Team Sweden.
The top two teams play a best-of-three series Jan. 2-3 (and Jan. 4 if needed) for the President’s Trophy while third and fourth play the same days for President’s Bronze.
Hill has family in the United States which made her eligible to play for the American team. Oliphant is with the team as a friend and Comox Valley Ringette Association teammate of Hill.
Hill had two assists in Team USA’s opener. In their second game, Hill scored twice and had one assist while Oliphant had an assist. Against Slovakia, Oliphant had a goal and Hill tallied an assist.
In an interview prior to their leaving for Helsinki, Hill and Oliphant noted that Canada and Finland are perennial favourites to win gold. That scenario is certainly unfolding at these championships, with Canada and Finland both 5-0 and set to meet Jan. 1 in the final pool game for both teams.
Team USA’s likely opponent in the battle for bronze would appear to be Team Sweden, and the American squad will be looking to regain their scoring touch after being blanked in their last two games.
As of Dec. 31, Team Slovakia is 1-4 while Team Sweden U20 is 0-4 and Team Czech 0-5.
Also in Helsinki, Canada and Finland have teams competing for the Sam Jacks Trophy. They will play a best-of-three series Jan. 1 and Jan. 3, and if necessary Jan. 4.
Follow the championships online at www.wrc2016.fi/en
ICE CHIPS Running Dec. 31 through Jan. 3 in Helsinki is the Ringette Festival, with U12, U14 and U16 teams from Canada, Finland, Sweden and Russia competing … for information on local ringette, check out comoxvalleyringette.com …