If yesterday’s matches were decided by fitness, then Saturday’s National Championship League matches came down to one factor: grit. Fraser Valley men and women’s squads were in their third day of action in Regina, as the men played two matches to extend their undefeated streak, while the women dropped a hard fought contest against the Calgary Renegades.
The men kicked off the day, facing off against the Edmonton Tsunami. Again, the FV men were plagued by a slow start; as they found themselves down by a goal following a fast-paced first quarter. Strong defensive play from Ashton Erickson helped to turn things around in the second, as he blocked two shots on the penalty kill and used his remarkable speed to generate offense on the counter-attack. The Fraser Valley men now lead the NCL in penalty kill percentage, stopping 82% of all opportunities. Valley would go on to win the game 13-10, after yet another dominant performance in the fourth.
Later in the afternoon, the FV women took to the pool to face off against the Calgary Renegades for the second time this weekend. Though Valley had prevailed over the Renegades in their last meeting 10-5, this contest would prove to be a much closer affair. Tanaya Makazu had a stellar game from the centre forward position, scoring a pair of goals and drawing an ejection. Not to be outdone by her fellow U16, Ava Morrant added a goal of her own while she terrorized Calgary’s defense with blistering counter attacks.
Late in the game, Valley trailed by a single goal with 30 seconds remaining. The Renegades drew a power play, but a huge stop by Raigen Mantyka gave FV a chance to even the game with 15 seconds left. A last ditch effort from Brianna Utas just narrowly missed the top corner – and the tightly contested game ended in Calgary’s favour 10-9.
In the final game of the day, the men faced off against the Calgary Wild in a gritty, physical match. The Wild jumped out to a quick three goal lead, prompting Valley to go back to the drawing board in between quarters. Another big performance by Byron Huang and Jordan Aikema lit a fire underneath the Fraser Valley men, as they once again took over in the later stages of the game. Huang ended the game with four goals, four ejections drawn, a steal and a block to his credit. Despite a strong start, the Wild fell to Fraser Valley’s momentum fueled squad 14-10, as the men improved to 4-0 on the weekend.
Sunday is the final day of competition here in Regina, as both the men and the women team will face off against Team Saskatchewan before starting the long journey back home. To follow all the action, visithttp://www.waterpolo.ca/NLScheduleResult.aspx.
Game Recap:Fraser Valley vs. Edmonton Tsunami (Men)
Final score: 13-10
Scorers: B. Huang with four, E. Martel and J. Aikema with a hat-trick each, A. Erickson, N. Behm and A. Elphick-Miner each added singles.
Goalies: B. Tolson with 7 stops.
Fraser Valley vs. Calgary Renegades (Women)
Final score: 10-9
Scorers: P. Bennett and T. Makazu scored two each, while H. Abbott, M. Neale, E. Aikema, B. Utas, A. Morrant had singles.
Goalies: R. Mantyka had 9 stops.
Fraser Valley vs. Calgary Wild (Men)
Final score: 12-10
Scorers: B. Huang and J. Aikema had four each, while E. Martel and N. Behm added a pair each. S. Dennis scored a single to cap the scoring.Goalies: B. Tolson had 9 stops.