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Preview - 16U Eastern Conference Championships

Three conference championships weekends down, one to go. After a highly competitive weekend at the 16U Western Conference Championships in Edmonton, the 16U Eastern Conference Championships will take its turn this weekend in Montreal. Only four spots remain to be filled at the 2018 National Finals, and the 16 and under boys’ and girls’ teams from Ontario and Quebec competing at the Eastern Championships will attempt to lay claim to those spots starting Thursday evening at Claude Robillard.

On the girls’ side, defending champions Dollard Black are the heavy favourites, having finished the season a perfect 18-0-0. Their defence has been stifling, averaging less than three goals against per game; meanwhile, their offence boasts five of the top eleven scorers in the Eastern Conference, and averages over 18 goals per game. Casey Taylor and Rose Kanemy lead the way on the attack for DDO, having each scored 71 goals during the regular season, tied for the NCL lead in the 16U girls’ division.

The other teams in the Eastern Conference now that pulling off the upset will be tremendously difficult as no team has come closer than nine goals all season. Capital Wave and CAMO are the #2 and #3 seeds respectively in the Eastern Conference and have played the most competitive games against Dollard. In virtue of their placement in the standings, each has assured themselves a spot on the opposite of the bracket as DDO and can advance to the National Finals without having to defeat the Dollard girls. Both teams will be favoured in their quarter-final matches, so a showdown between the two squads in the semi-finals with a National Finals berth on the line would come as no surprise. If the two clubs do meet in the semi-finals, it should be a fantastic game. Capital wave is 2-0-1 against CAMO, but all three games have been decided by two goals or less. The final standings clearly showed how close these two teams are, as Capital Wave only had 1 point more than CAMO. Both teams have top scorers on their side: CAMO with Nahla El Mahboubi, who has goals scored 55 goals and Capital Wave, with Mackenzie Greco, who has 54 goals.

Mavericks (8-1-9) is coming in the tournament as the fourth-seeded team, and they will be looking to win their quarter-final match against KW Inferno (5th) for a spot in the semi-finals. Mavericks won the three matchups between the two teams during the regular season. However, two of those games were decided by three goals or less. Saint-Lambert (6th) is set to play CAMO (3rd) in their opening match on Friday night. The last quarter-final game will feature Capital Wave (2nd) and Dollard Gold (7th).

The 16U boys Eastern Conference is by far the largest category in the NCL this year, with 13 teams competing in the conference. When looking at the 2017-2018 regular season as a preview of conference finals, the conference can be split into different segments. The first segment is the conference leaders Mavericks, Montreal Machine and Dollard Black. Each of these teams has defeated the other ten teams in every game they’ve played amongst them; additionally, of the four games the three teams played against each other, three ended in ties. The only victory was a Montreal Machine victory over Dollard Black that clinched Machine the 1st seed in the Quebec Division. The 2nd segment consists solely of the Ottawa Titans, who finished as the 2nd seed in the Ontario Division and inhabit a middle ground in the conference. Ottawa has also defeated the other nine opponents in the conference in every game played against them but has been unable to pick up any points against the teams above them in the standings. The closest Titans came was a 6-7 loss to Machine. The final segment is the remaining nine teams in the conference Shadow, CAMO, Hamilton, KW Inferno, Saint-Lambert, Capital Wave, Toronto Golden Jets, Laval Tritons and Dollard Gold. In order for any of these teams to qualify for the National Finals or win a medal, they would need to win at least two games against the top four teams, a tall task.

At the top of the bracket are the defending champion Mavericks, who enter the tournament as the number one seed from the Ontario Division with a record of 16-2-0. The Mavericks have not lost a game since the 2015-2016 season, and their unbeaten streak now stands at 42 games. They will face the winner of KW Inferno and Saint-Lambert in the quarter-finals, and then a matchup with Dollard Black could await in the semi-finals. In the teams’ only regular season matchup, Mavericks scored a tying goal with a half a minute to play to earn a draw.

The Montreal Machine headline the other half of the bracket, matching the Mavericks undefeated record at 16-0-2. Machine will face the winner of Laval and Hamilton in the quarter-finals, with a possible matchup against the Ottawa Titans in the semi-finals. If that matchup does come to fruition, it will be a rematch of last year’s quarter-finals, when Machine upset the higher seeded Titans on their way to a National Finals berth in their first ever NCL season. This year, the Titans will be hoping to return the favour and take out the higher seeded Machine.

The Toronto Golden Jets (3-2-13) and Capital Wave (5-0-13) will have the hardest road to the National Finals, as they will have to play each other in the only game of the first round. The winner of that game will face CAMO (3rd in the Quebec division) in round two, and then would have to reel off two more wins to earn a spot at the National Finals. The other second-round games will be Saint-Lambert (5-1-12) against the KW Inferno (6-2-10), Dollard Gold (1-0-17) goes up against Shadow (10-0-8) and Laval (2-0-16) vs. Hamilton (8-2-8).

With a total of 33 games scheduled in Montreal, this weekend promises to feature exciting water polo games for the local fans. Please see the NCL schedule for full details about the 16U Eastern Conference Championships.



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