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Polar Bears Ringette Tour 2011

The 2011 tour includes the following athletes:


Madison Dors Owen Sound, ON
Brittany Dors Owen Sound, ON
Asha Gosselin Hanmer, ON
Jamielyn Larose Chelmsford, ON
Emily Cozens Elora, ON
Gabrielle Rodrigue Orleans, ON
Dominique Rodrigue Orleans, ON
Lydia Mathieu Fergus, ON
Amy Cunningham Atikokan, ON
Emma Cunningham Atikokan, ON
Christy Pylypjuk Saskatoon, SK

Team Staff:

Becky Branton Elora, ON
Liz O'Hanley Cole Harbour, NS
Tanis Humphrey Stratford, ON

Player Name
Total Pts
Asha Gosselin (G)
Amy Cunningham
Gabrielle Rodrigue
Emily Cozens
Emma Cunnungham
Jamielyn Larose
Lydia Mathieu
Madison Dors
Dominique Rodrigue
Christy Pylypjuk
Brittany Dors

Click Here
for results of the Finland Lions Cup tournament

July 25

For the majority of us our trip began at the Toronto Airport. Tanis had us all on schedule and everything ran smoothly straight through getting our boarding passes and luggage checked, to security and onto to the Hengill (AKA our plane) There were a few nerve racking moments for some of us. “Does the bag weigh too much?” “Am I going to make it through security?” However, no worrying was needed as everything went as planned. No pillows or skates forgotten!!!!!! We grabbed a bite to eat at the airport and then headed to board the plane. While waiting for the plane to taxi to the strip we learned lots about Iceland from the onscreen programming. Did you know that that the national dish in Iceland is cured shark? That every New Years Eve Icelandians fire over 600 tons of fireworks? Or most important for us travelling through Iceland, Takk means thanks!!!! Although not all of us slept on the plane, we all were able to rest at least a little as we travelled across the Atlantic. It will be a busy day for us tomorrow!!!

July 26

Touch Down!!! Iceland, the Polar Bears have landed!!! Reaching Iceland at 2:30am our time everyone felt a little off starting our day. We met up with Liz, who had flown directly from Halifax and boarded our bus to get our tour started.  We drove about 45 minutes to our whale watching tour everyone admiring the scenery as we went. I believe it was Jamielyn who said it looked medieval. I definitely had a ‘Lord of the Rings’ moment!!!! With rolling hills of volcanic rock and beautiful green moss it was as if we had fallen into a different world with such vast amounts of space just sitting open and untouched. Nothing like at home, where even in the country there are farmed fields and hydro lines basically everywhere. Over 60% of the population lives in the capital city and the majority of the rest of the population lives along the coast. The country seems so huge for the mere 300,000 people that live here.

We boarded our boat and headed out to brave the cold and windy Atlantic Ocean. Being the first boat out for the day we were mostly flying blind, the captain heading out to the most popular spots from the past. Many decided to curl up inside the cabin and have a rest while others sat outside and enjoyed the fresh air. After what seemed like a long time of heading outwards, we finally heard the guide say, ‘At our 3:00’, and all charged outside to get a look. We had come across a pod of white bottled nosed dolphins. At first they were only surfacing and we thought there were only a few, but we soon realized the pod had at least 10 in it. As they never all surface at the same time we only saw about 5 at a time. They would come up for a second and then disappear into the depths only to surface far away on the opposite side of the boat.  We followed them around and they started to put on a bit of a show for us; Jumping straight out of the water, swimming right by the boat and flicking their tails in the air. They disappeared for a bit and we saw them come up way in the distance. They were feeding and we were lucky enough to see them breaching.  Emily and I rode the bow of the boat during this time and had to keep our balance as we crashed over the waves. We ended up getting soaked!!!!On the way back in to land almost everyone passed out for a while and we stopped to see a colony of puffins. Then it was back on the bus to head to the Blue Lagoon.

Now I have been told that Iceland is not an appropriate name for the country as it tends to not be as cold as New York City’s winters. I guess, we were just lucky and got to experience some special weather, because it got cold and wet!!!! It started to pour on our way to the lagoon. We all quickly ran inside to get changed and into the warm water of the sulphur springs. It was an amazing experience being in the smooth salty, warm water while having cold hard rain come down on you. Everyone moved around and checked out rocks and naturally healing water. Most of us tried the silica mud masks and enjoyed the warm waterfall.

It was then time to leave as we had a plane to catch. We all headed in to shower and condition our hair like crazy after having all the sulphur in it. A few of us stopped in at the gift shop and picked up a few souvenirs. We all hoped back onto the bus and headed to the airport. We kept a great pace and made it through security quickly and were ready to head to our flight. We got to the board to check our gate, only to find our flight had been delayed an hour and a half!!!! LL Tanis made sure to let tour guide Radek know that we were going to be late.

We landed in Berlin at approximately 11:00pm and were met by Radek and bus driver Peter. We finally reached the hotel at about 1:00am and I’m pretty sure everyone past out right away. We have a busy day ahead of us tomorrow!!! Getting to know all the girls has been amazing. I can’t wait to for the adventures to come!!! Much love to everyone at home. Miss you all lots!!!!

Coach Becky

July 27

July 27th was amazing. We arrived to Berlin late this morning at around 1:00 am. Back in Canada it was about 7:00 pm! It was a relief to finally sleep in a comfortable bed at the Holiday Inn. The next morning we were up at 8:00 am for a buffet style breakfast which was an experience to see what the Germans eat. I was glad to have a coffee but it was nothing like Tim Hortons!  Then we boarded the bus and we were off to Sanssouci Palace Gardens, which was a breathe taking site to see. We took many pictures and walked threw most of the gardens. Then we stopped to eat a quick lunch, then went back on the bus for a tour of Berlin. We seen the Berlin wall up close and also seen Checkpoint  Charilie. We also stopped to see the tombstones that were in rememberance of all those who were unknown and died in the Holocaust. We finished off the tour by passing by streets filled with stores that we will be shopping at tomorrow. By 6:00 pm we were back at the hotel to eat a buffet style supper with the team at 7:30 pm. Food was yet again delicious and we got to celebrate Henry Cunninghams birthday! The day has come to an end but many pictures were taken and memories were made.


July 28

Day 2 in Berlin:

We woke up this morning to grey clouds and rain. We had been hoping to avoid the rain but it seemed to be following us everywhere we went. We finished breakfast and then got on the bus. Our first activity of the day was a boat tour on the Spree River. After the boat tour, we had the remainder of the day to ourselves. Dominique, Christy and I decided to go sightseeing with the hop on - hop off bus. Our first stop was the Jewish Museum which covers 2 millennia of German Jewish history. From there, we walked to Checkpoint Charlie. This was one of the checkpoints between East and West Berlin. We went to the Checkpoint Charlie museum and Dom bought a piece of the Berlin wall... (Christy decided to pick up a pebble from the street and say it was a piece of the wall). After the Checkpoint Charlie museum, we were getting hungry so we stopped to eat at a trattoria. The food was excellent and very inexpensive! After lunch we got back on the hop on-hop off bus and headed to the Eastside Gallery. This is an international memorial for freedom. It's a 1.3km long section of the Berlin wall which has been painted by different artists from around the world. The section of the wall consists of 100 paintings. After sightseeing in Berlin, we went back to the hotel for a quick nap and then off to the mall. We went to H&M only to find out that they were closing in 10min... so we had to power shop!! We ended our day relaxing on a patio eating excellent food with great company:)
.... Off to pack for Prague!


July 29

Today we got up at the hotel in Berlin, packed your things, had breakfast and boarded the bus. We left the holiday inn at 9:10 and headed for terrezin concentration camp. On the bus Radek taught us how to do our role call in Czech; most of us struggled with our numbers, after that almost everyone had a nap. We crossed the Germany/Czech border around 11:30 and stopped at a grocery store for lunch not to long after that. The grocery store had a food court kinda area and was the size of 5 Canadian Wal-Mart’s! After lunch we got back on the bus and went to terrezin, when we arrived at terrezin we parked the bus and made you way down a long driveway type path to the front gate when we passed through the gate a tour guide met us and took us to the museum area to do an introduction of the camp and how it was used throughout history he then took us though the various court yards and explained how they were used in the 18th century and during WWII. We saw the bunk and solitary confinement cells, the cell of their most famous prisoner Gavilo Princip. Our guide took us through the labyrinth of the walls and showed us the gallows and the new court yard built by the Nazi’s in 1940. At the end of the tour we watched at 10min video, a German propaganda video of the camp called the gift of the town. We returned to the bus and headed to the arena where we were having our practice. At the arena we found our dressing room and started our warm where we started to make up our warm up dance. We had our 50 min practice and had dinner in the restaurant at the arena after practice. When we finished dinner we checked into the hotel and put our bags away then most of the group went down stairs for a drink, after a while everyone went to bad.

Madison  Dors

July 30

Today was an amazing day. Lots of fun , although it started out rough. We had to get up pretty early and didn’t get a lot of sleep. We had our breakfast and we were off to the arena for our 8:45am game vs. the Slovaks. We won the game 11-3. To say we mostly all just met 5 days ago we played well as a team. After the first game we went to the crystal factory, where we learned how the crystals are made and we had a guided tour of a department of the factory. It was actually pretty cool.

Afterwards we had time to visit the gift shop. When we left the crystal factory we went right to lunch at a pizzeria. It was pretty intense for the people that ordered pizza because each person had an 8 slice pizza to themselves.  Even the girls that got pasta couldn’t eat it all. Let’s just say we tried our best . We had some good laughs on the trip back to Prague for our second game vs. the Slovaks. We won the game 8-0. For some of the Slovak girls it was their first games they ever played. They were quite good for their first games. And guess what? We play them again tomorrow morning. We had time between the second game to go back to the hotel and shower before going for dinner on a boat with the Slovak team. We had a blast. The first thing we got when we got on the boat was a shot of some sort of alcohol, we all said “cheers!”  and got up for our buffet dinner. 

After eating with the Slovaks, they invited us up to the open deck at the top. It was a wee bit chilly though so we went to put on our coats and went back up. We took pictures together and yelled “I love Praha!!” to the people on the bridges as we went under. We all spent some time up there but then took more pictures inside before docking and getting back onto the bus to drop the Slovaks off at their hotel. The highlight of the night was on the way to drop them off. On the bus ride one of the Slovak girls wanted music to dance to but it wasn’t loud enough on the bus stereo so the Slovaks got us to sing some English songs that they knew for  them. We sang a few but our favourite was Dancing Queen.

The Polar Bears sang while one of the Slovak girls danced. When we sang a song she didn’t want she would yell “Shut up please Canada!” , it was hilarious. Once we dropped the Slovaks off we sang Don’t Stop Believin’ and ‘Oh Canada’ in French. It was a great laugh and it was great to have our team bonding together.
Today was one of the greatest experiences so far this trip and I can’t wait for our game tomorrow. We made some ‘hard’ promises, haha. I hope the next 8 days are as good or even better than this one. So happy to be here. I’m likin’ this a lot.

Lydia  Mathieu

July 31

Today we were at the bus for 8:15 am for game 3 against the Slovaks and we won 8-1, despite the score the Slovaks made us work hard for every goal. After the game we headed to Prague for our tour of the Prague castle and enjoyed a spectacular view of the city from a lookout point  at the castle. We also saw beautiful buildings, a cathedral and we walked on the Charles bridge and saw the statue of St. John. We lined up to touch the statue which is supposed to give you  good luck. We also saw the astronomical clock which gives a person a lot of information. Following the tour we had two hours of free time to shop and look around the Wenceslas Square. To conclude the day we had a lovely supper followed by a wonderful desert that was mini pancakes with yogurt. It was delicious!


August 1

It was a very early morning for the Polar Bears beginning at 6:30am.  The team, after a hurried breakfast, departed the Hotel Duo in Prague for the airport.  Our tour bus left at 7:00am for the airport with some very sleepy people.  We said good-bye to our bus driver, Peter and he wished us well in our future travel plans. The check-in process at the airport counter went painfully slow but all managed to board the flight to Stockholm with little time to spare.  Radek, our tour guide, said his last good-byes to everyone and was delighted to receive a team jersey signed by everyone.

We arrived in Stockholm to sunshine which was a huge improvement over the last 6 days of showers.  It was a mad grab for everyone's sun glasses and there was much jubilation in sunny Sweden.  We were picked up at the airport by our two new tour guides, Jaakko and his younger brother Kalle.  Needless to say, the girls were quite happy to have these two hotties accompany the tour.  We then proceeded to the city hall where we had lunch and then returned to the bus for a guided tour of the city which included a visit to the famous Vasa Museum.


Next stop for the group was time on your own in the shopping district where everyone grabbed their supper on the go and then made their way back to the bus where we drove straight to our hotel and checked in. After a brief break, on to the arena where we played our first game of the day against the Sweden team.  The Polar Bears were victorious with a score of 10 to 2 against a Swedish team that played hard.

Back on the bus to the hotel for some well deserved sleep and a snack from the grocery store next to the hotel.  That was the end of the day for most of us with a promise of being able to sleep in until 9:00am the next day.

Coach Liz

August 2

First day of this whole trip we get to sleep in. Do you think some of us slept in? NO... some of us had construction workers drilling right out our window. Down in the hotel lobby we went for a delicious buffet breakfast. As we headed to the bus the decision of choosing 3 options for spending our day in Stockholm, Sweden. Option 1- the Grona Lund Amusement Park, 2- the Open Air Museum and 3- Shopping. For me i decided to go shopping, the generous bus driver drove us to the other side of town so we can go to the Harley Davidson shop. As we were checking out of that store my mom started talking about Ringette and playing the Sweeds the night before, it so happens that the goalie from team Sweden worked there so me and Lydia got to meet her.

Lunch time was on our own and we decided to checkout the Hard Rock Cafe. Once we met everyone at our meeting point it was now time to experience the Ice Bar, which was so cool, the poncho's, mitts, room full of ice and the cups even made of ice. It was amazing seeing what they can do and the amazing attraction it creates. As we were running late we didnt have much time there and off to board the overnight ferry to Helsinki, Finland. Coming around the corner and seeing that gigantique boat and hearing that that's what we were sleeping in tonight was so exciting since most of us it was our first time.

I believe that the best part of our night was being able to sing kareoke as a team especially the closing song "Dancing Queen" and finishing off the night with a dance. All the girls had a blast it really gave us more time to bond and get to know each other, see our different personality, sense of style and just having a great time dancing together. I'd say by far one of the most funnest and memorable nights!


August 3

This morning started out at 12:00 because we were all still up showing off our moves at the disco on board the ship. Bedtime varied for the girls but all were in bed by the wee hours of the morning. By 9:55 we had to have eaten breakfast and getting off the boat. First major event of the day was when Lydia left her camera on her bed on the boat. Thankfully when she went back onto the boat through the other 2000 passengers disembarking she got it from one of the cleaning staff. She even managed to beat Kim and Joanne off, SURPRISE SURPRISE!

We went n a bus tour of Helsinki (which most of the group slept through) before checking into our hotel. We were given free time to eat, shop and/or sightsee. Many of us napped, visited the nearby market place and went shopping. Kim and Joanne managed to have a lovely encounter with a bird. As they were walking, Joanne was pooped on by a bird and it apparently ricocheted off her back onto Kim’s arm. We then left for the arena for our exhibition game against the Blue Rings of Finland. The girls were all very nervous as they knew the Finland teams would be a way bigger challenge then Slovakia and Sweden. After getting down 2-0 in the first two periods we were thankful to have been given a game with 4, 15-minute periods. We persevered and managed to beat Blue Rings 5-4. Dinner was back at the hotel and we were all exhausted but were too full of excitement to go to bed anyways. After our mini buffet we all went to bed looking forward to what tomorrow would bring.

Brittany Dors

August 4


The day got off to an early start here in Helsinki. After a quick breakfast at our hotel, we were off to catch the Superstar cruiser ship for a day trip to Tallinn, Estonia. For most of us, it was our first time travelling to that country. The ~2 hour trip afforded time to catch some rays on the sundeck, catch some deals at the Duty Free shops…or just catch up on some sleep!

Our Estonian experience started with a guided tour of Tallin. Everyone enjoyed hearing about the history of the city & about the various cultural/social influences related to years of (former) Soviet rule. The walking portion of the tour offered a chance to take some stunning photographs of the upper & lower areas of the “Old Town”. We then enjoyed lunch at a Medieval Grill restaurant located in the Town Square. The afternoon was devoted to…shopping – a sport which we have become quite good at since starting this trip! Key attractions on the shopping-front included amber jewelry, local wool clothing & handicrafts, and other souvenirs (…including local chocolates!). After a busy day in the capital city of Estonia, we gathered the troops & headed back to catch the evening cruiser back to Helsinki. In a very organized group effort, we managed to secure the more luxury couches at the back of the ship. From here, we were able to sleep, enjoy some dinner & take advantage of the on-board shopping (again!).  It was definitely a quiet bus ride back to the hotel that evening.

Lights were out relatively early at the Scandic Hotel Grand Marina that night, given our early departure for Turku & the Lion’s Cup tournament tomorrow.


August 5

This morning breakfast was at 8:30. We departed for Turku at 9 with an Ottawa team also on our bus. We did a pit stop and it was actually free to use the washroom! Once we got to Turku we picked up our tour guide and began the bus tour. She taught us about the great fire that burnt 75% of Turku many years ago. When the tour was finished everyone went to eat and buy souvenirs at the market. Our hotel is right beside a river and looking out the window it is really pretty. We left for the arena at 4:30 pm and we played our first game of the Finland Lion’s Cup. The whole team played awesome and we all worked hard. With 12 seconds left in the game, the other team scored and won 1-0. It was a great game and even though we lost it felt as if we had actually won. After the game we headed back to the hotel and then went to Ristorante Dennis. Each of us got a huge pizza that covered our whole plate, it was crazy! After we ate all we could, we walked back to the hotel to relax and get ready for the next day.
Amy Cunningham

August 6

Today was a important day for our team. With our lost against the Turun Ringette team we needed to win both our games today if we wanted a chance to play in the playoff games. After our breakfast at the hotel, we were heading to the arena for our 9:15am game versus Tikka. We were all excited and ready to redeem ourselves. Tikka was a strong opponent but we played our game well and won it 3-2. We had free time until our next game for lunch and exploring Turku. Some girls decided to go shopping, others went sightseeing but Christie, Gaby and I decided to head back to the hotel for lunch and to relax before our next game. Time flew by quickly and before we knew it, it was time to head back to the arena for our second game versus Hyvinkaa.

Having watched Hyvinkaa play before, we knew this team would be our biggest challenge of the trip. We were right, they came out strong with a 3-0 lead. We quickly came back with 3 goals of our own but it wasn't enough to beat them. We lost the game 5-3, even though we played a great game. Because we lost our second game today, we won't qualify for the playoffs. The team was sad but we all agreed that we played very well and we were all proud of our accomplishments.

We then returned to our hotel to freshen up for the tournament party that was held in a beautiful manor by the water. At the party, we got to meet all the other teams participating in the tournament. Once the evening was done, we took a beach side group picture of all the tournament players.

Tomorrow we will finish up the tournament by playing the 3rd and 4th playoff games. After a long day, it's time to rest up for tomorrow's games.
Dominique Rodrigue

August 7

We started off the day at 6 o’clock having to pack up our things eat some breakfast and get checked out before 6:45, at which time we headed off to our first “friendship” game against the Blue Rings. Having only 30 seconds of warm up we were a little slow to start off the game, and could never seem to catch up. We ended up losing a close game with one disallowed goal and a couple off the cross bar. The final score was 5-3.

We had some time to kill before the next “friendship” game so we grabbed a spot on a hill, stretched out, and got our tan on (more like napping in the sun). After what seemed like an eternity we gathered up our stuff and headed off to warm-up for our last game together.

We played our hearts out and tried our hardest, but sadly we came out on the losing end to a close 5-3 game. This game was our last game together as a team, it was a tough one to lose, but to know that everyone had tried their hardest and gave it their all is just as good of a note to end on.

We headed down to a school near the arena for a quick lunch together, and then it was back to the arena to watch some more games before we could head back to Helsinki for the night.
On the bus to Helsinki we were given a quiz about the different things we were supposed to learn about and remember from this trip. We stopped at The Manor for dinner with three other Canadian teams along the way, all patiently waiting for the quiz results.
The results were given to us after dinner. Tied for third place were Rob and Amy, second place went to Brittany and I, and in first place with a total of 21 correct answers went to Madi.

We got to the hotel around 7:45 Finnish time, checked in, watch a riveting episode of Jersey Shore and settled down for the night.
All in all it was a good day to end the trip off. Although I am excited to see all the folks at home I’m going to miss my team very much! It was an honor to play with you ladies, and I hope everyone continues to play this wonderful game of ringette! I hope to see you all soon!


August 8

Today starts our final day in Finland and of our 2011 Polar Bear Ringette Tour before we head home later today (or where ever our other travel plans take us).  We finally get to sleep in and almost everyone did taking full advantage of a bit of extra sleep as today is also a long travel day.  Up around 9 and after breakfast many headed into the city centre for last minute shopping at the market or any of the shops just a few blocks away.  Back to the hotel by 11:00 we headed back to our rooms and did our final packing and met up with everyone in the lobby at 11:45. 
Dom and Gaby were not taking a flight until later that day into Frankfurk so we all said our good byes to them, a few last pictures before getting onto the bus to the airport.  It was also goodbye to Kalle our tour guide for the past few days and they girls presented him with a couple of gifts. 
We arrived at the airport in short order and checked into Icelandic Air for our travels home.  To my surprise no one was over in luggage weight!!!  Way to go girls....  The Cunningham family was leaving us at this point to travel some more in Europe so we shared farewells with them all and a few more tears were shed before we boarded our flight to Iceland.  The flight of just over 3 hours went well but we were a bit late so Christy (who was leaving the group at this point didn't get to say farewell to everyone).  We headed off to security where everyone was allowed to go through (except Coach Liz) who was at the back of the group as her flight was not til a later time and they would not clear her early so she was not ably to say farewell to everyone as they had already cleared.
Once we cleared customs and letting everyone know that Coach Liz was not able to come through (knowing we could not go back) a few of the girls tried to catch up with Christy at her gate but she had already boarded.  Our flight boarded shortly thereafter with our ever dwindling group for the just over 5 hours back to Toronto where we arrived on time.  Once we got all our bags we headed to great our loved ones we had left at home in the airport.  The girls said their final farewells and tears were a plentyful everywhere.  The Gosselin and Larose families stayed to night in Toronto before heading home on Tuesday and I have heard they arrived safe and sound.  Dom and Gaby also arrived back in Canada Tuesday as well.
Special thanks to Coach Becky and Coach Liz.  To the wonderful parents Henry and Rob who were there to help with all the loading and unloading of the bus, the the Moms Maura, Kim, Joanne and Margaret.  And especially the girls who lived it, loved it and played it.  You all made me very proud!!  See you all soon in an arena near you!!!
2011 tour was a small group but it was a great trip and a very special group...


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