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Recap - 19U Conference Championships

Over this past weekend in Montreal and Surrey, 23 men’s and women’s 19U teams competed in their conference championships with the hopes of securing one of the coveted places at the 2018 National Finals. By the end of the competition on Sunday afternoon, four teams from the East and six teams from the West had booked their place in Montreal, earning a chance to win a national championship.

At the Eastern Conference Championships at the Claude-Robillard Sport Complex in Montreal, the Dollard Men’s team and CAMO Women’s team won the respective championships. CAMO repeated as conference champions for an amazing fourth consecutive year, winning in every year of the NCL’s existence. CAMO will head into the National Finals gunning for a fourth consecutive National Championship riding a perfect 18-0-0 record on the season. Dollard’s title was their first ever at the 19U Men’s Eastern Championships and will allow their men to compete for an NCL National Championship for the first time.

Dollard entered the tournament as the number one seed from the Westen Division which gave them a valuable bye into the semi-finals. In the semis, they had to face off against the Toronto Golden Jets, who outlasted Ottawa Titans Black 12-11 in an absolute thriller in the quarter-finals. The matchup likely drew up memories from last season, when the Golden Jets upset second seed Dollard in the quarter-finals, to end Dollard’s pursuit of the National Finals in their opening game of the 2017 Eastern Finals. The Golden Jets have developed a reputation of being a very tough team at the Eastern Championships and this game was to be no exception. The game was back and forth affair from start to finish, with absolutely nothing to separate the squads. Neither team had more than a one goal lead from the start of the game until there were 32 seconds left in the game when Jeremie Cote scored his fourth goal of the game, a bullet from the left side to stake Dollard to a two-goal advantage. The Golden Jets still did not go quietly, with Richard Laurie scoring with a perfect shot from near half on the restart to bring Jets back to within one, but Dollard was able to hold on to the ball and run out the clock to win the game 8-7.

In the finals, DDO would meet their old rivals from CAMO, who had upset the number one seeded Mavericks Black squad in the other semi-finals. Mavericks Black had started the year 13-0-0 but did show a little vulnerability down the stretch by losing two for their last three games. The difference in the game was a 10-minute stretch in the second and third quarters where CAMO was able to score six unanswered goals to turn a 4-2 deficit into a 7-4 lead. Leading the charge was Emmanuel Ramos-Garza who scored three of his game high five goals during that stretch. Mavericks could never recover from that deficit and CAMO would go on to record a 12-9 victory. The win not only sent CAMO to the gold medal game but allowed them to return to the National Finals where they will have a chance to defend their National Championship from 2017.

The final was the fifth meeting between Dollard and CAMO this season, with each of the previous four being nail biters. Dollard had managed to win three of those meetings with CAMO, with the fourth being a tie, so Dollard had the slight mental edge heading into the final. CAMO started out fast with the first three goals of the game, hoping a quick start would be the key in reversing their recent losses to DDO; but Dollard came back strong in the second quarter with four goals of their own to give them the lead at the half. The back and forth would continue through the second half with each team taking the lead and the other tying it back up, before midway through the fourth, after tying the game at 11, two unanswered goals by Alex Laroche and Alex Odoerfer provided DDO the two-goal margin that would be the difference.

The women’s competition featured a different format than the men’s, with the number one and two seeds in the conference (CAMO and Capital Wave respectively) meeting on Friday with the winner advancing directly to the final and clinching their place at the National Finals. After allowing the first goal, CAMO came out hard and scored seven goals in the first quarter. CAMO would never look back, winning the game 19-10. Ten different players scored for CAMO in the game, in yet another demonstration of the team depth that makes CAMO such a tough out at the 19U level.

The Capital Wave squad did not have much time to reflect on the defeat, as the loss dropped them into an all or nothing semi-final with Dollard Black. Dollard Black had earned their way to the semi-final as the number four seed by defeating the Mavericks and St-Lambert. The game was one for NCL lore, featuring one of the most incredible endings ever. Capital Wave jumped to a three goal lead in the second quarter, but Dollard Black slowly reeled them in as the game went on. Rose Kanemy did much of the heavy lifting for DDO, scoring an incredible eight goals in the game; however, it looked like Dollard would come up one goal short when Capital Wave had the ball and a chance to run out the clock. Dollard ran a great press on the restart and were able to force Capital Wave to pass it back to the goalie, leading to a turnover. Capital Wave’s goalie was then assessed a delay of game penalty for throwing the ball to the other end of the pool after the turnover was called. Not only did the call give DDO a penalty shot with a chance to tie the game, but also resulted in the Capital Wave goalie being capped out, forcing Wave to substitute an out player into the net. Wave choose their leading scorer Valeria Rojas as goalie. Rose Kanemy calmly buried the penalty shot to tie the game with a second left and send the game to a shootout. Things did not look promising for Capital Wave after losing their lead and their goaltender in the final seconds, but Wave did not let the turn of events affect them at all. Not only did Valeria Rojas stop all three Dollard shooters to begin the shootout, but Wave’s three shooters, Juliette Belanger, Mackenzie Greco, and Stephanie Gao placed three perfect shots into the back of the net to give Capital Wave a spot in the final after the minimum six shooters. Quite a way to book a spot at the National Finals.

The victory set up a rematch with CAMO in the gold medal game. The match was closer than Friday’s affair, with Capital Wave being able to hold CAMO to eleven goals in the final; CAMO however, returned the favour in kind, holding Wave to just five goals to record the 11-5 win and take home the title once again. After using a score by committee approach in the opening matchup, Daphné Guèvremont led the way for CAMO in the final, with her four goals providing a large part of the difference in score.

The Western Conference Championships were hosted in Surrey, BC at the Guildford Recreation Centre. The men’s and women’s squads from Saskatchewan were able to go a perfect 4-0-0 over the weekend to claim the Western Championship in both categories.

On the women’s side, two-time defending champion Saskatchewan had to first face off against the second-seeded Pacific Storm with the winner going straight to the gold medal game. The last time the two teams had met in the Guildford Facility during the February Crossover, Storm had given Sask their first defeat of the year, 12-9. Saskatchewan’s defense stepped up in the rematch, only allowing three goals on their way to a 10-3 win. The victory clinched Saskatchewan’s fourth straight trip to the National Finals for the 19U women, and many will likely see this Sask squad as the team with the best chance to end CAMO’s reign.

In the semi-final game, Pacific Storm went up against the third-seeded Edmonton Tsunami, who had defeated the Calgary Renegades in the quarter-finals 11-8. Pacific Storm had already clinched a berth in the National Finals by virtue of their win at the 19U Crossover, while Edmonton knew a win would clinch Tsunami’s first ever appearance at the NCL National Finals, in any category. The game was tight in the early minutes, but Tsunami slowly started to pull away in the second quarter. Taylor Halbauer was a big driver on the offense for Edmonton, scoring five goals in the game. The penalty kill was the story on the defensive side. Tsunami blocks seemingly filled all of the shooting lanes, with goalie Julie Zebak ready to clean up anything that made it to the net. Edmonton would kill off all seven Storm power plays in the game, and record a 10-5 victory and a spot in their first ever National Finals.

In the gold medal match between Sask and Edmonton, Edmonton could not find the same effectiveness offensively or on the penalty kill, and Saskatchewan was able to pull away early on, the way to a 12-3 win and their third successive Western Championship. Blaire McDowell led the way with four goals, while Amie Graham and Rumina Egerton locked things down in net for Sask.

The men’s side started off a very similar way for Saskatchewan’s men’s team as it did for the women’s. As the number one seed, Saskatchewan would square off against number two Pacific Storm. Pacific Storm had won the last three NCL Conference Championships and Saskatchewan was looking to put and end to that streak and start one of their own. Saskatchewan’s offence came out flying as they scored five goals in the first quarter. Saskatchewan continued to spread the ball around as eleven players recorded at least one goal in the game. The match ended with a 15-5 decision for Saskatchewan.

If Pacific Storm wanted a rematch in the finals, they would have to defeat rival Fraser Valley first in order to achieve that goal. The game was close for the first two quarters with the Storm having a three-goal edge. The next quarter saw the Storm’s offence take charge as they scored five goals in the third quarter and four goals in the fourth quarter to make the game 14-7. The win assured Pacific Storm their fourth consecutive berth at the National Finals, and they will hope to add another NCL banner to the one they won in 2016.

As Saskatchewan had already clinched a spot at Nationals by winning the NCL Crossover, the bronze medal game at the Western Championships was of added importance, because the winner would also advance to the National Finals. The bronze medal game featured Fraser Valley and the Calgary Torpedoes. Fraser Valley started quickly by scoring four goals in the first quarter. The Torpedoes would press in the second by scoring four goals of their own and cutting the lead down to three. In the fourth, with the Torpedoes down by only one goal, Georgiy Belyaev of Fraser Valley scored his sixth and seventh goals of the game which sealed the victory for Fraser Valley, who would take the match 14-10. This will be the first every 19U men’s appearance for Fraser Valley at the National Finals.

The gold medal rematch was a completely different story than the opening game of the tournament. After three goals in the opening 3:30 minutes, Pacific Storm’s defense and goaltenders (Tyler James and Juan Diego split duties for Storm) were able to keep the vaunted Saskatchewan attack in check for the rest of the game. At the other end of the pool, precision shooting from Sandro Miletic and Connor MacMillan slowly brought Storm back level. The game was tied at seven with under a minute and a half to go in the fourth quarter when a Saskatchewan counter attack led to a five-meter call and a penalty shot for Bruno Marunica. Bruno confidentially placed the ball into the corner of the net and the 8-7 lead would stand up for Saskatchewan.

Water Polo Canada would especially like to thank the host clubs from this past weekend: The volunteers from CAMO, who hosted the 19U Eastern Conference Championships, and the volunteers from Pacific Storm for their help in organizing the 19U Western Conference Championships at the Guildford Recreation Centre. A special note of thanks also goes out to the Saanich Water Polo School for providing the live stream equipment at the Western Event.

Final Standings

19U Eastern Conference – Men

  1. Dollard
  2. CAMO
  3. Mavericks Black
  4. Toronto Golden Jets
  5. Ottawa Titans Blue
  6. Ottawa Titans Black
  7. Mavericks Red

All-Star Team

  • Jérémie Côté - DDO
  • Stefan Dabic - CAMO 
  • Bogdan Djerkovic – Ottawa Titans Black
  • Milan Duhaime – Ottawa Titans Black
  • Lazar Todorovic – Mavericks Black
  • Patrick Almasi – Mavericks Black
  • GK : Andrei Velasevic – Toronto Golden Jets

Top scorer, regular season: Stefan Dabic, CAMO

19U Eastern Conference – Women

  1. CAMO
  2. Capital Wave
  3. Saint-Lambert
  4. Dollard Black
  5. Mavericks
  6. Dollard Gold

All -Star Team

  • Daphné Maurais – Saint-Lambert
  • Myriam Lizotte – CAMO
  • Floranne Carroll – CAMO
  • Daphné Guèvremont – CAMO
  • Valeria Rojas – Capital Wave
  • Juliette Bélanger – Capital Wave
  • GK : Hana Truchla – Mavericks

Top scorer, regular season: Apryl Gonzalez, CAMO

19U Western Conference – Men

  1. Saskatchewan
  2. Pacific Storm
  3. Fraser Valley
  4. Calgary Torpedoes
  5. Tsunami/Wild

All-Star Team

  • Jake Morris, Team Saskatchewan
  • Bruno Marunica, Team Saskatchewan
  • Max MacMillan, Pacific Storm
  • Sandro Miletic, Pacific Storm
  • Georgiy Belyaev, Fraser Valley
  • Harrison Henning, Calgary Torpedoes
  • GK: Brody McKnight, Team Saskatchewan

Top goal scorers, regular season: Jake Morris (Sask) & Harrison Henning (Torpedoes)

19U Western Conference – Women

  1. Saskatchewan
  2. Edmonton Tsunami
  3. Pacific Storm
  4. Fraser Valley
  5. Calgary Renegades

All-Star Team

  • Stefania Mic, Calgary Renegades
  • Alison Cameron, Calgary Renegades
  • Taylor Halbauer, Edmonton Tsunami
  • Jaiden Miller, Pacific Storm
  • Brianna Utas, Pacific Storm
  • Blaire McDowell, Team Saskatchewan
  • GK: Gabby Mantyka, Fraser Valley

Top scorer, Regular season: Holly Fedyck, Fraser Valley



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