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Preview - 16U Western Conference Championships

The NCL focus shifts to Edmonton Alberta this week, where the 16U Western Conference Championships will take place at the Kinsmen Sports Centre. Twelve girls’ and boys’ teams will be vying against each other for the four coveted spots at the 16U National Finals in Montreal at the end of May.

O nly the top two teams from each of the boys and girls’ divisions will qualify through to the National Finals, so in order to earn their spot, the teams must advance to the gold medal game.

In the girls’ division, Pacific Storm have established themselves as the favourites after going 16-2-2 during the regular season, good enough for a seventeen-point lead in the standings over second place Tsunami. Their lead in the standings somewhat hides the competitiveness of the 16U girls’ division in the west though. All four teams below them in the standings have either tied or beaten Storm in at least one game during the regular season, proving that absolutely nothing can be taken for granted at the Western Finals. Second, third and fourth in the standings (Edmonton Tsunami, Saskatchewan, and Fraser Valley) respectively, are separated by just six points and their total goal differential during the season is only a three-goal spread between all three teams. The Renegades, who finished fifth in the standings are a very dangerous matchup as well. They proved the kind of trouble they could cause at the Western Finals through their showing at the last tournament of the year in Regina, where they drew two of their matches and won another.

Edmonton, by virtue of finishing second in the conference, will match up with Storm in the “1 vs 2 game” on Friday night with a spot in the National Finals on the line. The teams tied 7-7 when they played last in Regina, and the Tsunami girls will be hoping that having their home crowd behind them will push them over the top.

Saskatchewan, Renegades, and Fraser Valley will have to win quarter-final matchups on Saturday morning if they are to have any chance of qualifying for the National Finals.

On the boys’ side, the Pacific Storm (17-1-0) are the defending champions and will be entering the tournament again as the top seed and favourites. Their most likely challenges will come from their provincial foes Fraser Valley and Spartans. Fraser Valley has played Storm especially tight, being the only team to hold them to a draw all season long. Fortunately for Storm, by finishing as the number one seed, they cannot meet either of Spartans or Fraser Valley before the final, so if they can win their semi-final on Saturday they will qualify for the National Finals.

Four teams trying to shake up the story in Edmonton are the Calgary Wild, Calgary Torpedoes, Winnipeg Neptunes and Pacific Storm Black. Hoping to peak at the right moment, these teams will have every opportunity to create a little havoc in the bracket and put their own stamp on the tournament.

Please see the NCL schedule for full details about the 16U Western Conference Championships.



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