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03.27.2017
Markham primed for 2017 Senior National Championships - Senior Nationals Preview

The top water polo teams in the country are descending on the Pan Am Centre in Markham this weekend for the 2017 Senior National Championships. Eight men’s and six women’s teams will vie for the titles of best senior team in the country at the largest Senior Nationals of the National Championship League (NCL) era. The 2017 Finals also see the return of National Team athletes to the highest stage of domestic water polo in Canada in what is shaping up as a fantastic event.

CAMO are the defending champions in both the men’s and women’s categories and are in good position to defend their titles. The CAMO women are seeded 1st overall after a perfect 12-0-0 season and it will be a tall task to knock off the three time defending champions from Montreal, as no team has come within eight goals of them all season. One team that will be a dangerous opponent will be the western representatives from Saskatchewan. No eastern team has faced Saskatchewan all season long, so the prairie women represented a somewhat unknown quantity at the Finals. Last season, Saskatchewan fell one goal short of forcing a shootout again CAMO in the finals, and as the 3rd seed this year, a rematch in the finals could be in the cards.

The women’s competition will start Friday night with the Quarter-Finals:

Quarter-Final #1, 7:15pm, (3) Saskatchewan (0-0-0) vs (6) Ottawa Titans (4-0-8)

2016-2017 results – No matches played
The first quarter-final will pit Saskatchewan against the Ottawa Titans. The Titans made their NCL MLWP debut this season and were competitive all season long, finishing tied for 4th in the East with a record of 4-0-8. With no previous matches to serve as a barometer, each team will have to quickly adjust to their opponents’ style if they hope to move on to the semi-finals.

Quarter-Finals #2, 8:30pm, (4) Capital Wave (7-0-5) vs (5) Mavericks (4-0-8)

2016-2017 results – Capital Wave 2-0-0 (16-10, 17-9)
Quarter-Final will pit 2nd place in the North Division, Capital Wave, against 2nd place in the South Division, Mavericks. Capital Wave won both regular season meetings and will be the favourites to advance to the semi-finals. While both teams have allowed similar goals against on the season (122 for CW, 120 for Mavs), the difference between these teams is on the offensive side where Capital Wave has scored 59 more goals on the season. The Mavericks will need to improve their offensive showing if they want to pull off the upset.

Quarter-Final Byes:

CAMO (12-0-0)
 
Toronto Golden Jets (7-1-4)

The men’s competition at Senior Nationals could truly be wide open this year with six different teams who can feel strongly about their chances of capturing the title. Senior Nationals stalwarts and frequent gold medal match foes Toronto Golden Jets and CAMO have locked down the top two spots in the field. The two clubs have accounted for the last four Senior National titles, and with two wins a piece, both clubs are eager for a chance to add another championship and claim the latest bragging rights. The 3rd and 4th seeds at Senior Nationals are the western competitors from Saskatchewan and Pacific Storm. Both teams looked extremely dangerous in their five game series and will be tough outs at the National Finals. Facing them in the quarter-finals will be Mavericks and Ottawa United, respectively.

Ottawa United has taken a big step forward in their 2nd season of MLWP. On their day they can defeat any team in the league, as proven by their wins over both the Golden Jets and CAMO. The Mavericks have been involved in some of the closest contests of the year, with two ties against CAMO, another against United, and a one goal victory over United. It’s fair to say that many of the games at Senior Nationals will likely come down to just one or two plays on either side.

The Men’s competition will begin with the Quarter-Finals on Saturday:

Quarter-Final #1, 9:15am, (2) CAMO (8-2-2) vs (7) Toronto Silver Jets (1-1-10)
2016-2017 results – CAMO 2-0-0 (19-6, 15-9)

CAMO will start their title defensive against the Toronto Silver Jets. The Silver Jets have shown flashes of being a competitive team throughout the year, but will need to show a lot more consistency to knock off CAMO, led by last year’s Finals MVP, Maxime Gallant.

Quarter-Finals #2, 10:35am, (3) Saskatchewan (2-2-1) vs (6) Mavericks (6-3-3)
2016-2017 results – No matches played

Western Conference winners Saskatchewan will face the Mavericks in the first round and what many expect to be a tight contest. Both teams feature deep and talented rosters and are conditioned to playing close contests. Four of Saskatchewan’s five regular season contests were decided by one goal or less and as discussed above, every Mavericks game seemed to come down to the wire. Last team with the ball could very well win this matchup.

Quarter-Final #3, 11:55am, (1) Toronto Golden Jets (10-0-2) vs (8) Hammer (0-1-11)
2016-2017 results – Toronto Golden Jets 2-0-0 (14-5, 15-5)

Winless Hammer will be in tough against the Eastern Conference leading Toronto Golden Jets, but every team starts 0-0-0 at Senior Nationals so the squad from Hamilton are in with a chance.

Quarter-Final #4, 1:15pm, (4) Pacific Storm (1-2-2) vs (5) Ottawa United (7-1-4)
2016-2017 results – No matches played

Pacific Storm’s squad is filled with up and coming Canadian talent and these young guns will be looking to knock off some of their more experienced counterparts during the Championships. Storm will open up against Ottawa United in the quarter-finals and will face the challenge of trying to slow David Lapins down. If they can’t limit the powerful Ottawa center’s chances, their run could end early in Markham.

The 2017 Senior National Championships are shaping up to one of the best ever in Canada. The competition begins Friday March 31st at 7:15pm at the Markham Pan Am Centre in Markham Ontario. Admission is free. Please see the NCL schedule for full details.

 
 
 
 

 


 
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