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NCL Notes - January 17, 2020

With the start of the new year comes the start of the second half of the NCL season. Last weekend over 50 combined games were played in the cities of Calgary, AB and Gatineau, QC. In Calgary, the Major League Men’s season got underway while the 19U and Major League Women’s season continued after a 2-month break. Meanwhile, in Gatineau, a full slate of 16U games were played, as teams continued to jockey for position in the standings.

In the West, there are three MLWP Men’s teams with only the top two teams qualifying for Senior Nationals. With that in mind, every game had major importance as no team wanted to fall behind early. Team Alberta took the lead by going 3-0 over the weekend. It wasn’t easy as they defeated Saskatchewan and Pacific Storm 9-6 and 13-10, respectively. George Galanos, Jared McElroy, and Stefanos Rizopoulos led the way for Alberta with a combined 30 goals between the three of them. At 3-0, Alberta is 6 points up on both Saskatchewan and Pacific Storm, but with only three games played so far, there is still a lot of season left.

On the Women’s side, Saskatchewan continued where it left off as they went 3-1 and still sit on top with a 6-1 record. Even with that record, they cannot rest on their laurels just yet as the Calgary Renegades sit second at 3-1 with three games in hand. In their two meetings in Calgary, the teams split their games with the scores being 9-8 for Calgary and 10-6 for Saskatchewan. As all the games were relatively close, it looks like it will come down to the last few games to decide who goes to Senior Nationals.

The 19U women’s age category continues to be as tight a division as possible. At the end of the weekend, the point difference between first and fourth place is only 6 points. Pacific Storm was the winner of the weekend as they went 4-2 and sit one-point back of first place Saskatchewan with three games in hand. Cassandra Pereira from Storm has been incredible as she has faced a division high 88 shots in only 8 games in which she has made a remarkable amount of saves which puts her second in save percentage in the conference. With the division so close, the Crossover becomes extremely important as a win at the Crossover equals automatically receiving a berth in the National Finals in Montreal.

In the Men’s 19U division, Pacific Storm continued their undefeated season by going 4-0 over the weekend. It was definitely a statement weekend for them as they were able to defeat defending National Champion Saskatchewan not once, but twice with scores of 12-7 and 14-4, respectively. Currently, they sit 3 points up on second-place Saskatchewan with two games in hand. As on the women’s side, Storm has been getting great goaltending. Tyler James of Storm leads the conference in goals-against average and save percentage. What is incredible is his goals-against average is 3 goals less than the goaltender with the second-best goals-against average. As with the 19U Women, the Men will face off in the Crossover, but CAMO and Shadow will be coming from the East to Edmonton to fight for the important National Finals berth as well.

In Gatineau, the 16U boy’s games created a logjam up at the top. The host team, Ottawa Titans Black, did not disappoint their home crowd as they went 4-0 over the weekend to hop over idle Mavericks for first in the conference with a 9-0-1 record. The biggest match came against Montreal Machine as both teams were looking to jump Mavericks for the top spot. The Machine had tied Mavericks earlier in the season and sat undefeated while the Titans came in having split the season series with Mavericks 1-1. In the game, Machine started out hot as they came out with a 3-1 lead entering the second quarter. After that, it was all Titans, as they would score 10 goals over the next two quarters to build a commanding lead. They would match Machine’s goals in the fourth quarter to win the game 13-8 and defeat them for the first time ever in the 16U age category. The pattern so far this year continues to be goaltending, as Liam Sterne of Titans Black leads the conference in goals-against average and is second in save percentage.

On the 16U girls’ side, Dollard Black continues to be an extremely strong team as they stayed undefeated at 10-0. Dollard’s offence has been red hot as of late as they scored an average 20 goals a game over the weekend. What has been even more impressive is that Dollard has 4 players in the top 5 in assists, which has shown how dangerous they are offensively. Serena Browne of Dollard has been a force in the water as she leads the conference in points with 77. She has also been good on the defensive end as well as she leads the conference as well with 36 steals. Another team that had a great weekend was St-Lambert as they went 2-1-0. What made this impressive was that they had to face the second and third-ranked teams in the conference in KW Kraken and Mavericks. Against KW, St-Lambert used a five-goal third to win the game 11-9. Against the Mavericks, St-Lambert entered the fourth quarter down by three and was able to come back and tie the game 12-12. Gabrielle Patenaude had a fantastic three games as she scored 19 goals and now sits third in goals with 37 with three games in hand. With the help of that offensive performance, St-Lambert remains within striking distance of the teams ahead of them in the standings, which should make for some fun games in the coming months.

Water Polo Canada would like to thank Tourism Calgary for their support in hosting the event in Calgary as well as the volunteers from the local Calgary clubs and the Ottawa Titans for their help in the cities of Calgary and Gatineau this weekend.



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