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NCL Weekly Notes: January 5 to 12, 2015

2015 Major League Water Polo season kicks off

The coming of the New Year means a new Major League Water Polo season is under way in Canada and 16 men’s and women’s teams have begun their three month sprint to Senior Nationals in Montreal .
Western Conference Update
Saskatchewan closing in on spot at Senior Nationals.
The MLWP season kicked off out west in Regina where the Saskatchewan and Manitoba women’s teams kicked off a six game series to decide the western entrant at Senior Nationals. The teams played three tight contests over 2 days in a series whose main subplot is the familiarity between the two teams. Five of Manitoba’s players and seven of Saskatchewan’s players also play on Saskatchewan’s 19U and/or 16U NCL teams making this a classic case of friends becoming foes.

In the end, Team Saskatchewan earned bragging rights over their neighbours from Manitoba, winning all three contests. The first two games took place on Saturday with Saskatchewan recorded a 10-5 victory in the opener and followed it up with an 8-5 victory in the nightcap. In both games, Saskatchewan jumped to an early lead and every time Manitoba would climb within a couple goals, Saskatchewan would respond with a key goal to keep Manitoba at bay. Heading into Sunday’s game, Manitoba knew another loss would put them on the brink of elimination but once again Saskatchewan pulled away, and leading 9-4 late in the 3rd quarter, a home sweep seemed assured. With their backs against the wall, Manitoba made a stirring 4th quarter rally. Manitoba leading scoring Devyn Smith scored goals 30 seconds apart to bring Manitoba within one with two minutes two play. Manitoba frantically searched for the equalizer but although Saskatchewan had bent, they would not be broken and when the buzzer sounded,
Saskatchewan had held on 10-9. Saskatchewan will now travel to Manitoba for the 2nd leg of the series needing only need a single point in three games to clinch their spot at Senior Nationals.
Eastern Conference Update

The eastern conference of MLWP kicked off in Montreal last weekend on both the men’s and women’s sides. The Men’s MLWP eastern conference has 8 teams this year, split into two 4 team divisions. The Quebec division got under way this weekend with the Dollard Devils, Laval Tritons, CAMO Maîtres, and CAMO Roadrunners each getting a look at the competition they will be facing as the try and earn their place at Senior Nationals. The Men’s teams qualify for Senior Nationals through their divisions and so the inter-division games are crucial.
The CAMO Roadrunners got off to a strong start, defeating the rival Devils as well as the Tritons in their opening two games. The Devils were able to bounce back with wins against the CAMO Maîtres as well as the Tritons. The Laval Tritons will feel most hard done by the opening weekend as they played three good games but were not able to come away with a single point. In their opening match, they lead the Maîtres 17-15 late in the 4th quarter, but three consecutive goals gave the Maîtres a one goal victory. The season is only a week old, but when the final standings come out, that game might prove crucial in who earns the final spot at Nationals.

On the Women’s side, the eastern conference will be contested between CAMO Blanc, CAMO Bleu, the Dollard Devils, Capital Wave, and the Toronto Golden Jets. All 5 teams will qualify for Senior Nationals with the regular season determining Senior Nationals seeding, including who earns the important first round byes and the easier road to the title. The CAMO teams look to be the early class of the division as neither Capital Wave nor the Dollard Devils could overcome the Bleu or Blanc teams in four total games. The final match of the weekend might have been an early championship preview with CAMO Blanc beating CAMO Bleu 12-8 at Claude Robillard; no doubt the other teams in the division will have a little something to say about that in the coming months though.



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