Valley triumphs in Calgary

The frigid Calgary air couldn’t cool down a pair of red-hot Fraser Valley teams this weekend, as the U16 girls and boys battled to a combined 7-1 record. Valley’s girls remained undefeated in NCL play this year, as they cruised to a 4-0 weekend. Meanwhile, the boys continued their winning ways against the province of Alberta, falling only to the undefeated Team Saskatchewan.

The weekend kicked off early for the boys’ team, as they faced off against the Calgary Torpedoes on Thursday evening. Though the Torpedoes’ talented centre forward, James Bureau, managed to put away six goals, Valley’s own Garrett Davis was equal to the task, netting 13 goals himself. But while Bureau provided the lion’s share of the Torpedoes’ offense, Davis enjoyed support from seven other Valley goal scorers, who contributed to the 23-9 win.

After the late game Thursday, the boys were back in action in the first game on Friday morning, facing off against the Calgary Wild. This match would prove to be much closer in the early going, as the first quarter finished with Valley ahead 3-2, thanks to a hattrick from Davis. In the second quarter, Valley’s offense kicked into gear with six unanswered goals from Davis, Riley Bennett, Anthony Tremblay, Spencer Devitt, and Cameron “Cato” Davies. Devitt would add another in the final minute of the quarter to complete a hattrick of his own. Despite the offensive rush, Valley managed to lock down defensively as well in the quarter, only allowing a single goal from Tom Fitzpatrick. The boys would then cruise in the second half to an 18-8 win, improving to 2-0 on the weekend.

Friday afternoon, the girls arrived in Calgary looking to send another statement to the rest of the NCL competition in Canada. Facing off against the Wild-Thunderbirds, Valley’s speed and depth was on display as the girls earned a 16-1 victory. Valley’s keeper Gabby Mantyka had a stellar game in nets and very nearly earned a shutout – only a last minute shot from Veronica Alba, tipped by a Valley defender, found its way past Mantyka.

Satuday’s action began with the boys’ team taking their only loss of the weekend against Team Saskatchewan, who remains undefeated in league play. An unfortunate start to the game derailed Valley’s effort, as the team was penalized three times in the opening three minutes, allowing Sask to capitalize on two power plays and a penalty shot. Despite being down 3-0, Davies rifled a shot into the high corner, and the power play marker pulled Valley to within two. As the game progressed, Valley’s speed on the counter attack generated 13 power play opportunities – but the boys were unable to break past a talented goalie and the physical play of Team Sask. The game would end 10-3 in Saskatchewan’s favour, as Valley was left to regroup with only a game remaining on the weekend.

The undefeated Valley girls were back in the pool with two games on Saturday afternoon, and they did not disappoint. Opening the day with a 22-6 victory over Team Saskatchewan, the girls rolled off of an eight-goal performance from Tanaya Makazu. Not to be left out of the conversation, Valley veterans Katarina Preocanin and Kinga Wisniewska combined for seven goals between them, while Sam Furneaux, Tianna Smids-Dyk and Ava Morrant controlled play on the defensive side of things.

With a warm-up under their belts, Valley’s girls wasted no time in the second contest of the day, jumping out to a 4-0 lead on the Calgary Renegades in the first quarter, thanks to goals from Preocanin, Morrant, Smids-Dyk, and Abigail Carter. Left-handed Emily Bird also extended her scoring streak to three games, despite being on the younger end of a veteran-laden squad. Wisniewska and Makazu would add nine goals between them, and Furneaux would add a single to round out the scoring in the 18-6 victory.

Sunday saw the boys return to form against the Edmonton Tsunami, though not before the Tsunami jumped to a 2-0 lead in the opening frame. Valley’s answers came from two-metre guard Mark Aikema, rookie Abishek Tharmapala, and Devitt – while their effort on defense ensured that Valley carried a lead into the second. Aikema and Devitt doubled the lead with goals in the second quarter, and Jakob Poropat was a pure bandit earning six steals in the frame. Sasha Kruglikovskiy turned away shots in Valley’s net, while Kyle Bos found himself in an unfamiliar position as a field player in the second half. Proving that goalies do it better, Bos managed to win a swim ball, and score two goals in limited time out of the net – much to the amusement of his teammates.

Meanwhile, the girls faced off in a rematch of their first game of the weekend, against the Wild-Thunderbirds. Though Valley’s roster features a number of returning athletes from the squad that won the national championship last season, it was the youth that carried Valley through their first game on Sunday. Holly Fedyck, and Carter both scored a pair of goals, despite Fedyck playing a quarter of the game in nets. While the game was close in the early going, Valley’s stifling defense and lightning fast counter was too much to handle for the young Wild-TBirds’ squad, as Valley outscored them 9-2 in the last two periods of play.

With only one game to go to secure a perfect record on the weekend, and extend their undefeated streak to 12 games, Valley’s girls prepared for a rematch against the Calgary Renegades. After a 4-4 first quarter, it looked like the Renegades were in a position to give Valley their first close game of the season. As the second quarter began, the Renegades even jumped out to the lead, thanks to a strike in the opening minute from Caelan Loroff. Sensing the danger, the defending champions elevated their game and scored five straight to regain the lead – but Calgary refused to bow, answering with two goals of their own, keeping the game within reach. But the onslaught that began in the second continued into the third, as the girls shutout the Renegades while putting eight goals past their goaltender. Wisniewska and Morrant combined for 12 goals between them, Wisniewska doing the bulk of the work in the first half, and Morrant picking up the slack in the second. Valley would go on to win the game 23-11.

At the conclusion of the weekend, Valley’s girls remain on top of the NCL Western Conference standings with a perfect 12-0 record. Their goal differential, +159, is 125 goals more than Pacific Storm, in second place. The boys meanwhile, occupy third overall in the Western Conference, below Pacific Storm and Saskatchewan. One more conference weekend remains for the U16 category, ahead of Western championships, hosted in B.C. in May.

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