Ringette: Hockey's Little Sister
by Matt Murray

Those of you who know me as Stats, know that I love hockey and that I can
talk about hockey for hours and hours. Before you ask, yes, I do have other
things to do with my free time other than talking about hockey. Anyway, what
you probably don't know is that I also have a soft spot for Ringette as well. I'd
have to say that ringette is an exciting, fast-paced game both to play and to
watch. Some of the goals I've seen were so breath-taking, I thought they were
scored with a puck and a stick with a blade.

For those of you who never watched a game and don't know the rules, ringette
is quite different from hockey. Granted, the object is to score on the opposing
goalie, and you get two points in the standings for a win and one point for a
tie. That, however, is where the similarities end and the differences begin.

In hockey there are three periods, normally twenty minutes long (depending
on the level) but in ringette there are two halves. The halves are normally
fifteen to twenty minutes long. Unlike hockey, there is no red-line and the
players are not allowed to check another player. I wish the referee would
explain this to every player because I've see a lot of bone-jarring hits that left
the recipient lying on the ice, hurt, while the hitter goes back to the bench,
unhurt and unpunished.

Other differences include the fact that all players must pass the ring before
crossing the blue line, this is ringette's answer to "off-sides" in hockey. To start
a game there is no face-off like hockey. Instead there is what's called a
"free-ring". The visiting team starts with the ring at centre ice and that player
must pass it to a teammate. If the ring lands in the crease no player can touch
it except for the goalie. The goalie then picks up the ring and throws it like a
frisbee to a teammate. The goalie has five seconds to do this. There is no icing,
but when the ring crosses both blue lines, untouched, no player from the
offensive team can touch it before the defense gets control of the ring. There
are other small differences, but there are too many to list and explain in one
article. I'm just trying to give you, the reader, a feel for this game.

As I said before, ringette is a fast-paced game both to play and to watch. I
know this as well, with the state that hockey is in now (with all of the
"trapping" and interference), I would gladly watch a ringette game than sit
through a yawn-fest like a Sens vs. Devils game or a Bruins vs. Sabres game.
Plain and simple, ringette is more exciting. Before you think that I've
abandoned my hockey roots, I haven't. I've just gained an appreciation for
hockey's little sister...ringette. We've all heard the saying, "Hockey's Life", at
one time or another. There's a more accurate expression for ringette and that's
"If Ringette was easy, they'd call it Hockey" and, to an extent, that's true.
Someday we'll all recognize that ringette deserves a place among the
established Canadian sports like hockey or curling. Until then, ringette will
have to continue carving out its place in sports

Matt Murray wrote this article for the Confederation High School (Nepean, Ontario) student newspaper.
His sister, Katie, played on the 1997/98 NRA Junior B team.
Taken from Nepean Ringette Association website.  http://www.nra.on.ca