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16U Western Conference Championships - Recap

The 16U Western Conference Championships occurred over the weekend in Edmonton, with five girls' teams and seven boys’ teams competing for a prized spot at the 2018 National Championships. After 19 intense games, only four could qualify to go to Montreal for Nationals.

On the boys’ side, defending champion and top-seeded Pacific Storm received a bye into the semi-finals and would have to wait to play the winner of the first quarter-final match of the tournament. This match featured the Calgary Wild and the Calgary Torpedoes. The Wild finished second quarter with a three-goal lead over the Torpedoes as Marko Ninkovich, and Stephen Windsor both helped with two goals apiece. Afterwards, the Torpedoes began to apply pressure as they continued to claw away at the Wild’s lead. With 30 seconds to go in the game and down by one, Torpedoes’ Viktor Jovanovic was given a penalty shot, which he buried to tie the game and send it to a shoot-out. In the shoot-out, Torpedoes’ shooters, Gerald Staples, Viktor Jovanovic and Tyler Jones all scored on their attempts, and the Wild could only put one past goalie Qahir Ramji as the Torpedoes were able to advance with a 13-11 win.

In the semi-final game, Pacific Storm could not be stopped as they defeated the Torpedoes 18-4. Pacific Storm would start the game on a 5-0 run and never looked back finishing the game on a 7-0 run and clinching a spot at Nationals. Connor MacMillan and Ryan Siu paced the Storm with four goals each.

On the other side of the bracket, the third-seeded Spartans and the second-seeded Fraser Valley faced off in the semi-finals after defeating their opponents in the quarter-finals. Fraser Valley entered the semi-finals after defeating Pacific Storm Black 25-4. The Spartans had a tougher road as they narrowly defeated the Winnipeg Neptunes by a score of 9-7 in their quarter-final match. The semi-final match was a close and defensive-minded game with no big leads. The Spartans scored first and stayed ahead the rest of the way as they held on to win 6-4. The win gave the Spartans their first-ever berth at Nationals.

In the boys’ bronze medal game, Fraser Valley was able to rebound from their loss in the semi-finals to double up on the Calgary Torpedoes 16-8 and claim the bronze. Andrew Cowie, Quinn Davies, Marco Loeppky and Jonathan Tremblay led the way for Valley with three goals a piece

The gold medal match started off with great defensive efforts on both sides as the game was tied 2-2 after the first quarter. The Storm offense would then control the rest of the game as they scored seven unanswered goals to take a big lead of 9-2. Connor MacMillan would again have a great game offensively, as he scored three more goals for Pacific Storm. The game would end with Pacific Storm victorious 11-3.

On the girls’ side, the first team to lock up a spot at Nationals was Pacific Storm. The format for the 16U girls’ category had a one vs two game where the winner would automatically advance to the finals. In this game, the first seeded Storm had to face off against the number two seed Edmonton Tsunami. The game was never in doubt as Pacific Storm scored the first seven goals of the game. Sarah Feng, Mourne Clements, and Raha Peiravani scored all but one of those first seven goals. They would never look back as the game would end 13-3 in favour of the Storm.

The rest of the bracket was not as one-sided as every team was fighting to get the last spot in the finals. The Calgary Renegades entered the tournament as the fifth seed. After losing to number four Fraser Valley in the preliminary round, the Renegades would have to play the Edmonton Tsunami in the quarter-finals. The game was a low scoring affair as no team could get the upper hand over the other. With the Renegades clinging to a 5-4 lead with less than five minutes remaining, Natasha Dykman was able to score the team’s sixth goal at the 4:39 mark of the fourth quarter and thus sealing a Renegades’ victory 6-5.

In the other quarter-final, third-ranked Saskatchewan faced number four Fraser Valley. It was another close game as the largest lead throughout the game was only two goals. While Saskatchewan never held the lead throughout the game, they would continually come back to tie the game. With the game tied 6-6 in the fourth quarter, Fraser Valley's Annika Reinfjell would score her first goal of the game, and the game winner as Fraser Valley would go on to win 7-6 setting up a rematch with the Calgary Renegades.

In the semi-final, the Renegades were looking to change the script on Fraser Valley, who defeated them 10-9 in preliminaries. The game would not be as high scoring as last time as both defenses stepped up to keep the game 2-2 at the end of the second quarter. With the score tied 3-3 in the fourth, Renegades’ Ashley O'Neill scored the game-winner with less than three minutes in the game to seal the victory for the Renegades. The win not only puts the Renegades in the gold medal game but also secured them a spot in the 2018 National Championships in Montreal.

The girls' bronze medal game between Fraser Valley and Edmonton Tsunami was one of the games of the tournament. It was a back and forth contest that featured four lead changes. It looked like Tsunami finally gained the edge in the fourth quarter when back to back goals by Gabriella Vollman and Alia Burlock put the home side up 7-5. A counter-attack goal by Emily Clapham with 2:51 remaining brought Valley right back in the game, and with under a minute to play, Sarah Portas would tie the game to force a shootout to decide the bronze. Tsunami’s first three shooters would score to stake Edmonton to an early lead in the shootout and when Cassidy Thorne was able to deny Valley’s fifth shooter, Tsunami had clinched the bronze in front of their raucous home fans.

The go ld medal game would follow the same pattern as the rest of the games the Renegades played in the tournament, which was low scoring. After defeating second-seeded Edmonton Tsunami 13-3, Pacific Storm had a hard time solving the Calgary Renegades defense. The game started with the Storm getting two goals from Martina Blazevic. Elizabeth Birch and Ashley O'Neill would help the Renegades tie it up in the third quarter. The game would continue tied until less than three minutes left where Pacific Storm’s Mourne Clements would score the only goal of the quarter to give Storm their first ever 16U Girls Conference Championship.

Water Polo Canada would especially like to thank the host club, Edmonton Tsunami and the Kinsmen Centre for their help in hosting the 16U Western Conference Championships.

Final Standings:

16U Western Conference – Boys

  1. Pacific Storm
  2. Spartans
  3. Fraser Valley
  4. Calgary Torpedoes
  5. Calgary Wild
  6. Winnipeg Neptunes
  7. Pacific Storm Black

All-Star Team – Boys

Connor MacMillan – Pacific Storm

Viktor Jovanovic – Calgary Torpedoes

Thomas de Wit – Calgary Torpedoes

Adam Windsor – Calgary Wild

Jovan Ivezic – Spartans

 Nathanial Eidsness – Winnipeg Neptunes

Ethan Benoit – Fraser Valley

 GK: Tyler James – Pacific Storm

Top scorer, regular season: Nathanial Eidsness, Winnipeg Neptunes

16U Western Conference – Girls

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

All-Star – Girls

Diba Peiravani, Pacific Storm

Lexi Marissink, Edmonton Tsunami

Alia Burlock, Edmonton Tsumani

Vega Jones, Fraser Valley

Taeghen Hack, Saskatchewan

Elizabeth Birch, Calgary Renegades

GK: Amie Graham, Saskatchewan

Top scorer, regular season: Diba Peiravani, Pacific Storm



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