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News Article

05.05.2017
Pacific Storm and Saskatchewan crowned champions of the 16U NCL Western Conference

The boys from Pacific Storm and the girls from Saskatchewan won the 16U Western Conference Championships at the 2017 16U Western National Finals this past weekend at the Repsol Centre in Calgary. With the wins, Storm and Saskatchewan have qualified for the 2017 National Finals in Calgary, along with the silver medal winning boys team, also from Saskatchewan, and the silver medal winning girls team, the Calgary Renegades.

The 16U Western Finals began with twelve teams vying for the four available spots at the National Finals. The first two spots would be determined by the Friday night games between the top two finishers in the regular season, from the girls’ and boys’ divisions.

The girls’ matchup was up first and featured top seed Pacific Storm against the Calgary Renegades. Storm had finished one point ahead of Renegades during the regular season but Renegades had won three of the four games between the teams, so both had reason to be optimistic heading into the game. The match was tight from start to finish, we neither team able to lead by more than one goal at any point. The teams traded the lead for four quarters until Storm captain Jaiden Miller scored her 2nd goal of the game on a powerplay with 54 seconds left. The goal gave Storm a 5-4 lead and a spot in the final was tantalizingly close; but buoyed by their hometown fans, the Renegades showed no discouragement after falling behind so late in the game, and within 15 seconds, Emma Tufts had equalized for Calgary. After a defensive stand got them the ball back with under 30 seconds to play, the Renegades suddenly found themselves with a chance to win. As the clock ticked down, Alison Cameron received the ball at the point and after a couple of fakes placed a perfect shot of the left post for the winning score. The final minute turnaround meant the Renegades would be representing their hometown of Calgary at a least one more event this season; the National Finals.

Right after the girl’s match finished, Pacific Storm and Saskatchewan were to face off in the boys’ 1 vs. 2 game. The teams were familiar foes, having met in the 1 vs. 2 game, as well as the gold medal game, in both the 2015, and 2016 Western National Finals. Saskatchewan had a 3-1 record in those 4 games, but in 2017 Storm had been the stronger team and posted their own 3-1 record against Saskatchewan. The game could not match the closeness of the girl’s game as Storm were simply too strong on the day. Led by Kourosh Solemani and Lucas Bennett, Storm jumped out to a quick 5-0 lead after the first quarter, and extended it to 11-2 at the half. Saskatchewan simply couldn’t match Storm’s firepower and the final result of 19-6 would send Storm back to the National Finals for the 3rd straight year.

Saturday featured the semi-final matchups that would determine which two teams would join Storm and Renegades in the gold medal games, and the National Finals. The girl’s semi-final pitted Pacific Storm against Saskatchewan. Saskatchewan, who earned their way to the semi-final with wins over the Edmonton Thunderbirds and Fraser Valley, were entering the game on a high, while Pacific Storm was forced to regroup after coming up just short in Friday night’s game against Renegades.

The 16U girls Western Conference had featured close games time after time all season long, and as the Storm – Sask game worn on, it was not surprising to see another game heading right down to the wire. Through two and a half quarters, the game was played to a standstill. Back and forth the teams went, with neither being able to break free of their opponents. Storm hole player Diba Peiravani had been the focal point of the Storm attack all game, and with the score knotted at 4, and after already having scored three goals in the game, Diba would muscle her way to two more goals to give Storm the first two goal lead of the day. The 3rd quarter horn came at an important time for Sask, who needed to find a way to slow the Storm hole player down in the 4th quarter, while also finding some more offense to even the score. Saskatchewan got off to the perfect start in the 4th quarter when Carissa Semple turned defense into offense by engineering a steal on Storm’s opening possession and speeding the other way for a goal 21 seconds into the period. Hanni Kruppi’s goal a minute later would tie the score at 6. The game turned into a defensive showdown from there. Sask tried to keep two players close to Diba Peirvani at all times to avoid the one on one situations that had led to so many of the Storm goals. Storm in return did a great job of sealing off the area close to the net to limit Sask’s chances. In the end, neither team could find a winner in regulation, so a shootout would decide the teams’ fate. After the first three shooters found the back of the net, it was the goalies turn to take over, with four consecutive saves being registered by the two net minders combined. The shooters would then reassert themselves as ten consecutive shots found their way home. Four times Saskatchewan went ahead in the sudden death portion of the shootout, and four times Pacific Storm equalized. Finally, after 18 shoots, a 5th tying attempt by Storm was a little bit too high, and Saskatchewan had pulled out the victory and a spot in the National Finals.

The boy’s semi-final was up next between Saskatchewan and Saanich/Spartans. Saanich/Spartans, the 4th seed entering the championship, had defeated the Calgary Torpedoes in the preliminary round, and then upset Fraser Valley in the quarter-final to qualify for the semi-final. The key to Saanich/Spartans success so far had been getting off to fast starts, as they had jumped out to a 5-0 lead over Calgary, and a 4-1 advantage over Fraser Valley. Saanich/Spartans would continue that trend for the 3rd consecutive game, and pounced all over Saskatchewan to lead 7-1 in the 2nd quarter. It was a total team effort by Saanich/Spartans, with five different players scoring their first five goals. The 2nd seeds from Saskatchewan were in a world of trouble, and as the match wore on, they just seemed unable to find their form. The deficit was still six goals late in the 3rd quarter (10-4) and things were looking bleak for the prairie boys. It was at that point that team captain, and the NCL leading scorer for the 16U boys division, Callin Chimilar began to take over. Callin would score 4 of his game high 6 goals over the remaining 11 minutes of play to pull Saskatchewan back into the game. With the tide turning, Saskatchewan’s pressure defense began to pay off and slowly they reeled Saanich/Spartans back in. Nathaniel Eidness provided the tying goal with two minutes to play, and the comeback was complete. Neither team could find a winner in the final two minutes, so once again, a shootout would be needed. The shooters seemed to take over from where the girls left off in the previous game, as the first 11 would all find the back of the net. Both goalies came tantalizingly close to providing the winning save, but every time the ball would manage to find its way across the line. The game was finally decided when the 12th penalty of the shootout was fired just a few centimeters wide of target, striking the post and staying out. Saskatchewan had survived and advanced to their third consecutive National Finals.

With the National Finals participants locked in, Sunday was left to determine the medal winners for the Western Conference, with the bronze medal games up first.

The girl’s bronze medal game featured Edmonton Tsunami against Pacific Storm. Tsunami had lost a tough game in the preliminary round to Fraser Valley, but had bounced back with two straight wins to work their way to the bronze medal game. Pacific Storm entered the game from the opposite side of the spectrum, having the misfortune of coming out on the wrong end of two games that could have gone either way. The differing emotions no doubt played a role off the opening swimball, as Tsunami had a little more kick, and capitalized on some early opportunities to lead 5-1. Taylor Halbauer led the way, providing three of those markers for Edmonton. Storm would find their legs in the 2nd quarter, and challenge Tsunami the rest of the way, but that early four goal deficit was just too much to overcome, and the Edmonton Tsunami were the bronze medalists.

The boy’s bronze medal game was a rematch of the quarter-final between Saanich/Spartans and Fraser Valley. Coming off the tough lose to Saskatchewan, Saanich/Spartans might have been expected to start a little down against Valley, but the opposite was true. For the fourth time in fourth games Saanich/Spartans jumped to a big early lead, 5-1. This time, there would be no comeback, as Saanich/Spartans kept the hammer down, and finished off Fraser Valley 13-6 to win the bronze.

Next up were the gold medal games. The girl’s championships would be decided first, with Saskatchewan facing off against the Calgary Renegades. The stands were packed with fans anticipating a close game, but midway through the 2nd quarter, the game looked like a runaway. Saskatchewan had jumped all over Calgary and had built up an 8-1 lead. The Renegades did not panic though, and with plenty of game left, knew they just had to take things one step at a time and slowly work themselves back into the game. The defense was a key for Calgary, because after giving up 8 goals in under 10 minutes, they would hold Saskatchewan to only 2 for the next 22 minutes of play. At the other end of the pool, Natasha Dykman went to work for Calgary, and her precision distance shooting brought the Renegades closer and closer. Four goals from Natasha in the 2nd and 3rd quarters, along with another three from other Renegades, turned an 8-1 game into a 9-7 game entering the 4th quarter. With the momentum clearly on their side, Calgary did not let an early Sask goal in the 4th slow their comeback, with three consecutive goals in a two minute stretch tying the game at 10. With less than 30 seconds to play, it looked like another shootout would be needed to decide the championship, but with 14 seconds left Carissa Semple earned a minor foul just outside of 5 meters, and placed the ball in the top corner to give Saskatchewan the lead. Renegades had one final chance to tie, but a long range shot was stopped by Rumina Edgerton and Saskatchewan were the champions.

The boy’s gold medal game would conclude the 16U Western National Finals, and Saskatchewan would be trying to win double gold in 2017, as well as three consecutive championships for the boys. They faced a tall task however, in the form of Pacific Storm. Storm had just beaten Saskatchewan 19-6 in the 1 vs. 2 game on Friday, and Sask would have to make some big adjustments to pull out the victory. Saskatchewan tried all sorts of strategies to offset Storm’s playing making abilities, but the BC boys were just too strong. On any day, Storm can have 5 or 6 players who can dominate a game, and in the gold medal game, it was Finnegan Clements turn. Finnegan scored nine (9) goals in the game to lead Storm to an identical 19-6 win over Saskatchewan. After two years of falling just short to Sask in the gold medal game, Storm was over the hump in impressive fashion, and are heading into the National Finals on a very strong note.

NCL 16U Western Championships Final Results

   Girls

  1. Saskatchewan
  2.  Calgary Renegades
  3.  Edmonton Tsunami
  4.  Pacific Storm
  5. Fraser Valley
  6.  Edmonton Thunderbirds
   Boys
  1.  Pacific Storm
  2.  Saskatchewan
  3. Saanich/Spartans
  4. Fraser Valley
  5. Calgary Torpedoes
  6. Calgary Wild

Award Winners

Girls

Top Goal Scorer

Taylor Halbauer- Edmonton Tsunami, 66 goals in 19 games

All Star Team

Paige Donald – Saskatchewan
Alison Cameron – Calgary Renegades
Taylor Halbauer – Edmonton Tsunami
Holly Fedyck – Fraser Valley
Lexi Marissink – Edmonton Thunderbirds
Diba Peiravani – Pacific Storm
Goalie: Julie Zebak – Edmonton Thunderbirds


Boys

Top Goal Scorer

Callin Chimilar, 93 goals in 20 games

All Star Team

Maxwell MacMillian – Pacific Storm
Callin Chimilar – Saskatchewan
Riley Bennett – Fraser Valley
Lucas Bennet – Pacific Storm
Nemanja Ivezic – Saanich/Spartans
Andy Cowie – Fraser Valley
Goalie: Toni Maric – Pacific Storm

 
 
 
 
 

 


 
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