Fans at the Lawson aquatic centre in Regina, Saskatchewan were treated to two thrilling one-goal games Friday – both of which were decided in the final minute of play.
Fraser Valley remained undefeated through two days of competition, as the men and the women of the 19U squads demonstrated the definition of clutch play. The men, playing first, faced tough competition from the Calgary Torpedoes. The Torpedoes had previously emerged victorious over the Calgary Wild in the very first official NCL competition, setting the stage for a tight game against the Fraser Valley men.
Calgary jumped to an early three goal lead through two quarters, but once again, Valley’s depth came into play in the latter half of the match. The men rallied around a highlight reel power play strike early in the third, battling back to take the lead into the fourth. The fourth quarter was a back and forth affair, as both teams exchanged goals throughout. Fraser Valley took the lead with under a minute remaining, on the back of a high-pressure penalty shot. But the Torpedoes answered with a goal of their own, with only 28 seconds remaining.
Fraser Valley called timeout immediately after – which led to Byron Huang rifling a shot into the far low corner to seal the game (and another 3 points in the standings) for Valley. Strong play in net from Ben Tolson kept Valley in the game, and proved invaluable in the high-scoring final quarter.
Not to be outdone, the women faced off in another nail biter later in the afternoon. Team Saskatchewan, who were already victorious in a tight game against Pacific Storm on Thursday, pushed Valley to the brink. Saskatchewan utilized strong play from the centre forward position to gain an early two-goal advantage, before Valley started to use their speed to open up the game. Still, Valley’s one goal lead in the third quarter was short lived, as Saskatchewan responded with a goal under two minutes later to go back on top.
Emily Kelvin-Davies evened the game at the start of the fourth, which set the stage for a down-to-the-wire finish. The teams exchanged goals midway through the quarter, and the game continued to be tied until the final minute. After drawing an ejection during what would be Fraser Valley’s final possession, Hannah Abbot capped off a strong performance with a clutch goal to put Valley ahead with 11 seconds remaining. Saskatchewan called timeout, and ran a quick driving play to open up for a shot. However, Kelvin-Davies, Megan Neale, and Fraser Valley goalie Raigen Mantyka combined to force a scramble for the ball with seconds ticking away on the clock.
As the time expired, Fraser Valley’s undefeated streak endured. Both teams were in great spirits for a team dinner (pictured below!). – organized by our fantastic chaperones Leanne Martel and Madeline Aikema.The men will face off against Calgary Wild, and Team Saskatchewan tomorrow, while the women will play again against the Calgary Renegades.
Full match details, including score sheets can be found athttp://www.waterpolo.ca/NLScheduleResult.aspx.
Game Recap: Fraser Valley vs. Team Saskatchewan (Women)
Final score: 9-8 Fraser Valley
Scorers: E. Aikema: 4, H. Abbott & P. Bennett: with 2 a piece, E. Kelvin-Davies with 1
Goalies: R. Mantyka: 11 saves.
Game Recap; Fraser Valley vs. Calgary Torpedoes (Men)
Final score: 11-10 Fraser Valley
Scorers: J. Aikema: 5, E. Martel & B. Huang with 2 a piece, S. Remfry & N. Behm with singles
Goalies: B. Tolson: 8 saves.