The Game of Ringette

January 11, 2021

We’re a ringette family!

Don’t get me wrong, we love all winter sports, but when you have a child that plays ringette you become invested. Especially when they start as a little one and grow and develop year after year in front of your eyes.

Our daughter joined the Regina Ringette Learn to Play program when she was 6. The program provides age appropriate ringette activities to those who are new to the sport. This is where she learned to play (and skate)! After a year of Learn to Play she moved on to Bunny level. This is the youngest playing division where emphasis is placed on continuing to learn the rules and positions. Novice and Petite levels followed and so did her continued development as a player. Similar to hockey, our daughter will progress through the remaining three levels until she ages out at age 18 and has the option to join the Open 18+ division.  Ringette can really be a lifelong sport if one chooses.

Unless you are active in ringette, the rules, and how they differ from hockey are not well known. Most know that ringette is played on the ice with skates, a straight stick, and a ring. The objective is to score on the opponent by shooting the ring into their net. There is much emphasis on passing and team play because players cannot carry the ring across the blue lines on the ice. Additional rules include:

Free Passes – In ringette, these are like free kicks or throw-ins in soccer and basketball or like the quick restart in lacrosse after a violation.  The ring is placed in the Free Pass circle, in the side nearest their own goal.  There is a small red dot painted on the ice for ring placement.  One player takes possession and, on the whistle, has five seconds to either shoot or pass to a teammate; they must pass it completely out of the circle and cannot skate out of the circle with the ring.  During these five seconds, no other player is allowed in the Free Pass circle.

Zone Play – The deep offensive and defensive zones extend from behind the goal net to the Free Play Line – the thin red line at the top of the face off circles.  Within these deep offensive and defensive zones, each team is allowed only three skaters (not including the goalie) at full strength. 

Goal Crease – Neither team, except the goalie, is allowed to enter the goal crease, not even their stick.  Doing so will result in a violation and turn the ring over to the opposing team.  If the ring lands in or on the crease, the only player who can touch it is the goalie.  The goalie usually picks up the ring and throws it like a frisbee to a teammate.  The goalie has five seconds to pass it out of her crease and may also choose to hit it with her stick or skate, instead of picking it up and throwing it.

Two Blue Line Pass – There is no icing in ringette, but there is a two blue line pass.  When the ring crosses both blue lines, untouched, no player from the team that passed it can touch the ring until one of their opponents does first.  Touching it prematurely is a violation that sends the ring all the way back to the zone it was originally in for a Free Pass by the non-offending team.

Penalties – Like hockey, penalties are called for various infractions.  Most penalties in ringette are unintentional and are the result of accidently running into someone when attempting to get to a loose ring first; or when checking the ring carrier and missing the check on an opponent’s stick. 

Having the right equipment is very important. All players require:

  • Canadian Standards Association (CSA) approved helmet with CSA approved ringette mask
  • Elbow pads
  • Skates
  • Gloves
  • Girdle or hockey pants
  • Cooperall pants or hockey socks
  • Shin/knee pads
  • Certified neck protector
  • Shoulder pads with chest protector
  • Jersey
  • Ringette stick

If you are looking to upgrade your child’s equipment or are new to the sport be sure to check out the great local Sporting Goods Stores here in Saskatchewan.

Our family loves our winter months in the rink. We’ve met so many amazing people through ringette, attended many out of province tournaments and our daughter has learned life-long lessons along the way.

If you are interested in finding out more about ringette visit your local Ringette Association website or give them a call.

See you at the rink!

-Sarah Elchuk is the Content Manager on the Brand and Digital Platform Team