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Pacific Storm and Saskatchewan punch their tickets to National Finals

After 44 games of intense play at the Guildford Recreation Centre in Surrey B.C., the 19U Women from Pacific Storm, and the 19U Men from Saskatchewan claimed victory at the 2018 Crossover Championships. By virtue of their victories in Sunday’s championship games, Storm and Saskatchewan have qualified for the 2018 National Finals in Montreal.

The Pacific Storm women came into the championship ranked second in the Western Conference with a 4-1-2 record, but their overall level of play from the first game on was second to none of this weekend. On the opening day of the round robin, Storm defeated third ranked Fraser Valley 14-7 and then handed previously undefeated Saskatchewan their first loss of the season, 12-9. Storm would finish the round robin with a perfect 4-0-0 in the round robin to earn the top seed for the double elimination playoff. Storm raced through their opening two games of the playoffs, dispatching the Edmonton Tsunami and Fraser Valley, 11-2, and 13-5 respectively, to earn a spot in the finals.

The right to face Pacific Storm for the title came down to a match between Edmonton Tsunami and Fraser Valley. Tsunami had won a thrilling match 8-7 against Saskatchewan on Saturday night to earn their place in the semi-final. The game was nip and tuck right from the start, with neither team able to pull away. Knotted at four in the third quarter, Ava Morant’s fourth and fifth goals of the game gave Valley breathing space at 6-4, and the BC girls were able to hold of Tsunami to record a 9-6 victory.

Valley’s victory set up a rematch with Pacific Storm in the championship game. In the two previous encounters at the Crossover, Storm had pulled away from Valley early in the contest. Valley flipped the script in the final, taking a 3-0 lead in the first quarter. Storm rarely had to play from behind in the tournament, so it remained to be seen how Storm would respond to the challenge laid down by Valley. The Storm girls never panicked and relied on their excellent defense to keep them close until the offense started clicking. The offense started to hum in the second when three consecutive goals gave Storm their first lead at 5-4. After Valley tied the game early in the third, three more unanswered goals gave Storm all the cushion they would need to win the title. The final score was 9-6 and with that, Storm had qualified for the National Finals.

The men’s competition featured seven teams, who played a six-game round robin on the first three days of the tournament. The games were intense and competitive from the start, with the teams being unable to take any games for granted. The Calgary Torpedoes for example, who finished sixth in the standings, played three extremely competitive games against the teams that finished second, third, and fourth in the standings, and would not have been out of place in the playoffs. As it was, only four teams could qualify for the playoffs. Saskatchewan, who came into the event a perfect 6-0-0 continued their winning ways, by going 6-0-0 in the round robin to claim the top seed. It did not come easy for Saskatchewan however, as they were pushed in many of their games for the first time all year. 2 nd place went to Dollard who finished 5-0-1. There was absolutely no separation between third through fifth, with Fraser Valley, Pacific Storm, and CAMO all finishing tied at 3-0-3 in the standings. Fraser Valley were the odd team out after the tie-breakers, and CAMO and Storm advanced to the semi-finals.

The first semi-final pitted Saskatchewan against the defending national champions CAMO. There was nothing to separate the teams in the first quarter, with Saskatchewan heading into the break with a slim 5-4 lead. In the second, Sask really found their legs, scoring four more goals, while goalie Brody McKnight and the Sask defense held CAMO scoreless. The second half was more of the same, as Saskatchewan took their game to the highest level, and CAMO just could not keep with them on that day. The final score was 16-7.

In the finals, Saskatchewan faced another tough team from Montreal, Dollard. Dollard, like Saskatchewan, had played their best game in the semi-finals, recording a convincing 11-4 over Pacific Storm. The Final was as much a story about special teams as anything else. The Sask powerplay was nearly unstoppable in the game, going 7 for 11 overall, including 4 for 4 in the first quarter to provide an early lead. On the flip side, the Sask penalty kill held DDO to only one successful power play in six opportunities. The lead Saskatchewan built up with their special team play was simply too much for Dollard to overcome, and Sask’s 13-6 win clinched a spot at the National Finals for the second consecutive year.

Hosting the Crossover would not be possible without the support of our partners. WPC would like to recognize the support of the City of Surrey, Sport Surrey, and ViaSport as well as the volunteers from Pacific Storm and Fraser Valley, whose help was invaluable over the course of the event.

This week in the NCL

With many games being played over the last few weeks, the NCL enters a bit of a quiet period, with only 11 games on the schedule this week. The action will be split between Toronto, Montreal, and Richmond. Please see the NCL schedule for exact times and locations.



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