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NCL contenders start to separate themselves after 56 games in three days
After 56 games were played over the weekend in Surrey, BC, and Markham, ON, combined, every team in the 16U and 19U NCL has now played at least three games and the National Finals contenders are starting to separate themselves from the pack.
At the 16U Boys’ event in Surrey, the most anticipated match of the weekend was the showdown between Pacific Storm and Saskatchewan. Saskatchewan defeated Pacific Storm in the Western Conference Finals last season on their way to winning the National Championship and many feel a similar matchup is primed to occur this season. The lead up to the game did not lower expectations as each team would enter the game undefeated. Pacific Storm came in 5-0 and Saskatchewan was at 3-0 with neither team being seriously threatened in any of their previous contests.
The game started off in front of the largest crowd of the event and although Saskatchewan scored first, it was Pacific Storm that grabbed the early momentum. Luka Maletic did most of the early damage for the home squad as they “Stormed” out to a 5-2 lead. Saskatchewan would fight their way back in the 2nd by capitalizing on two power plays on their way to tying the score at five. Sandro Miletic would briefly give Storm the lead but Saskatchewan responded in 14 seconds to tie the score once again. Storm played for the last shot of the half but a turnover led to a 2-1 the other way and Callin Chimilar would give Sask a 7-6 lead after finishing off a nice passing play. Sask carried the momentum into the 3rd with another 2 goals in the opening 2 minutes. Storm was now confronted with a thre- goal deficit of their own; and just like Saskatchewan in the 2nd, Storm would use their special teams to get back in the game. A power play goal and a penalty shot brought them to within one with the 3rd quarter winding down and it looked like anybody’s game once again. Storm hoped to stop Saskatchewan once more to get a chance to tie the game, but on the next possession Malachi Leclerc would score for Sask and restore the 2 goal cushion. Storm would get no closer the rest of the way as Leclerc would score three of his team’s next four goals and finish with a game high six goals. The late onslaught of goals by Leclerc was too much for Storm to overcome and Saskatchewan would prevail with a 14-10 victory. The best news for the fans is that it’s possible these teams could play 5 more times this season.

In the western 16U girls’ category, it certainly appears the defending champions from Fraser Valley are going to be tough to stop this year. Fraser Valley pushed their record to 6-0 in Surrey and has won every game by at least 10 goals. Returning most of their championship winning team Fraser Valley is strong in all three phases of the game. Their offense is led by Kinga Wisniewska, Tanaya Makazu, Ava Morrant, and Tianna Smids-Dyk but they also are extremely deep, with 12 different players having scored a goal in Surrey this weekend. Their defense might be even more impressive, as the most goals Fraser Valley has given up in 6 games is 7 goals. Goalie Gabby Mantyka certainly also plays a strong part in that low goals against average is she is always calm, cool and collected in the net. It’s a long season, and anything can happen, but it would be a big surprise if this Fraser Valley squad was absent from Nationals this year.
In the eastern half of the country, the 19U NCL teams gathered in Markham for the first conference weekend of the season. The eastern 19U women’s category looks like it might be the most competitive division top to bottom in the NCL this year. While last year’s National Champions from CAMO have separated themselves from the pack a little bit and sit undefeated at 3-0, the rest of the division is an absolute free-for-all. The Golden Horseshoe team’s weekend provides the best example of this. In the team’s six games this weekend, they beat Dollard twice by one goal, lost to Capital Wave by one goal, tied St-Lambert, and also beat St-Lambert by four. Their only game that was decided by more than four goals was their loss to CAMO. Some of the most exciting NCL games this season will no doubt be coming out of the Eastern Conference 19U Women’s division.
The final division playing games this weekend was the 19U Men’s Eastern Conference. Unlike the other categories who played this weekend where last year’s defending National Champion is once again leading the way, the 19U Men in the east have some new blood at the front. Last year’s 5th place and 6th place teams have rocketed to the front of early standings. The Toronto Golden Jets finished last in the east last season with 3 wins in 26 games. They have already doubled that total in just 9 games. The Jets have an extremely deep team and often have a half-dozen players score multiple goals in a game. There are too many strong players to mention but more often that not it’s Blake Carnevale and Alexander Bozzo leading the charge for the Jets. The one team the Jets have not been able to figure out yet, is CAMO. CAMO now sit at 5-0 on the season, including a pair of victories over the Jets, once in Montreal, and Markham each. Felix Poliseno, Alexis Reiher, and Benjamin Lemay-Lavoie often do much of the damage up front, and it’s no simple task to beat goalkeeper Luka Pejovic on the backend. CAMO can certainly rival the Jets with their depth and hopefully these two teams have a few more exciting games to play this season.
This week in the NCL
The NCL’s Major League Water Polo (MLWP) division kicks offthe weekend of Dec. 11 in Toronto as every team in the eastern conference will converge on the University of Toronto for the opening weekend. 28 Senior games will played over the weekend as clubs will get their first look at which men’s and women’s squads will be a contender at this year’s Senior National Championships.
Please see the NCLschedule for exact times and locations of all game this week.


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