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Saskatchewan Men and Women punch their tickets to National Finals

After a grueling 44 games at the Repsol Sport Centre in Calgary, AB, both the 19U Men and Women teams from Saskatchewan came out victorious at the 2019 Crossover Championships. With the Crossover crown, both teams automatically qualify for the 2019 National Finals in Calgary.

On the men’s side, Saskatchewan continued its dominance by going undefeated in the round robin. They won all their games convincingly, outscoring their opponents 74-26. Their performance earned them a first-round bye in the playoffs. Their first match of the playoffs would see them face CAMO. While this game was much closer than their usual contests, Saskatchewan’s offense could not be stopped as Callin Chimilar lead the team with 5 goals to help Saskatchewan defeat CAMO 16-9.

In the semi-finals against the second seed Fraser Valley, it started out much of the same as Saskatchewan ran out to a 4-1 lead. Fraser Valley, wouldn’t go away as they rallied off 3 straight goals to tie it at 4. Unfortunately for Fraser Valley, that was as close as they would get as Bruno Marunica and Callin Chimilar of Saskatchewan went wild with a combined 11 goals in the game to lead the team to a 19-11 victory.

While Saskatchewan waited for their opponent, a classic was occurring in the other semi-final. Fraser Valley, after losing to Saskatchewan in the first semi-final, still had a chance at a rematch by virtue of the playoffs being a double elimination style. In this game, they would face the third-seeded Pacific Storm. The match was a back-and-forth affair throughout all 32 minutes. Fraser Valley had the lead with less than a minute to go in the game when Thor Olafson of Storm buried a goal to tie the game 8-8. The game would end up going to a shoot out, where Joel Blanco of Storm would finish off the game by scoring in the shootout to make it a final of 13-12.

In the finals, Pacific Storm kept things close in the first period with the score 4-2 in favour of Saskatchewan. However, Saskatchewan’s potent offence could not be stopped as Callin Chimilar and Nathanial Eidsness both scored 5 goals each to help lead their team to a 15-7 victory and their second straight Crossover Championship.

The Saskatchewan women would have a tougher road through the playoffs than their male counterparts. They entered the tournament second last in the Western Conference with four teams ahead of them. In addition, only the top four teams qualified for the semi-finals. Finally, add the fact that undefeated CAMO was playing in the tournament made the women’s side an absolute gauntlet.

Saskatchewan started off well with a 17-6 victory over first place Pacific Storm. It, however, was followed by a tough 9-8 loss to Edmonton Tsunami. With very little separation between all of these teams, another loss would have spelled trouble for this Saskatchewan team. This game, however, became the turning point for Saskatchewan as they would go on to win the next 4 round robin games, including close victories over CAMO (17-16) and Calgary Renegades Black (13-12). These games helped Saskatchewan claim the top seed in the semi-final.

The round robin was very punishing with two of the top teams in the West, Pacific Storm and Fraser Valley, not even qualifying for the semi-finals. Almost every game was competitive with victors usually winning by 3 goals or less.

In the first semi-final, Saskatchewan faced off against Edmonton Tsunami, which was the only team that had beaten them in the round robin. The Tsunami jumped out to a 5-1 lead in the second period. Saskatchewan would not panic as they rattled off 6 straight goals to take the lead. The Tsunami kept it close all game, but with Jessica Dean’s game-high 5 goals for Saskatchewan, they were able to hold them off for a 9-8 victory.

In the final, Saskatchewan would have to face CAMO. Both teams were evenly matched as they both finished with a 5-0-1 round robin record and had almost the exact same goals for and goals against. CAMO also had a tough semi-final game with them defeating Calgary Renegades Black 12-11. Throughout the first two periods of the final, CAMO had the lead with them entering the third period up 6-5. In the third and fourth, Saskatchewan’s Jessica Dean would take over as she would score 5 of the next 7 goals. This helped stake Saskatchewan out to a 13-10 lead, which would turn out to be the final score. With the victory, Saskatchewan was able to punch their ticket to the National Finals and have a shot at defending their title from last year.

Hosting the Crossover would not be possible without the support of our partners. WPC would like to recognize the support of the Government of Alberta, the City of Calgary, Tourism Calgary, the Repsol Sport Centre and the Alberta Water Polo Association.

This week in the NCL

While not as busy as last week, the NCL has 20 games this weekend spaced between Ottawa, Montreal, and Kitchener. After a hectic week, there will be a little break for Western teams until the next big event that will be held in Edmonton from the 22-24.



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