Fraser Valley’s U16 boys started 2016 off on the right foot, collecting a valuable three points in a dominant win over Saanich Water Polo School (SWPS) on Sunday.
The game, which had been rescheduled from earlier in December, was a test for the Valley team, who only resumed practices last week after a holiday break. The rust showed for the field players in the opening quarter but Valley’s goalie, Kyle Bos, kept the visitors on top as he made a number of stops in the first.
As the game progressed, Valley’s offense kicked into another gear, posting 3-1 and 4-0 scores in the second and third quarters. Garrett Davis was especially lethal from the right side, as he picked corner after corner en route to a 6-goal performance. Davis’ 22 goals leading into the game was good enough to sit him in the top 15 of scoring nation-wide, despite only playing in five games so far this season.
Despite Valley’s stranglehold on the game, SWPS battled back in the fourth quarter, as Elias Seto led the home team to a four-goal run. That would be the end of the scoring for Saanich, as Valley put three more in the back of the net to end the quarter. Final score in the game was 12-5.
A day earlier, Valley’s U19 men and women were in action at Walnut Grove, facing off against Pacific Storm in double-header action.
The women were up first, with Valley looking to exact some revenge for the last minute loss they suffered at the hands of Storm earlier in the season. And again, it was veteran, and Team Canada member Emily Aikema who drove the bus offensively for the Fraser Valley girls, with a huge five goal performance.
But Pacific Storm jumped to an early lead in the first quarter, and never looked back as Valley’s offensive push (including three in the final frame from Aikema) proved to be too little, too late for the young squad. Despite drawing nine power plays throughout the game, FV was unable to convert on their chances, and the game slipped away to a 14-7 loss.
The men’s match followed the women’s, and it promised to be a high scoring affair. Last time these two teams met, there was a staggering 38 goals scored in the contest – with the final scoring going in favour of Pacific Storm, 26-12.
With that score line in the back of their mind, the Valley men aimed to tighten up defensively, and relied upon Kyle Bos to be a force in nets. Two strikes from Grant Phillips-Hing in the first quarter kept Valley in the game as the frame ended 4-2. Despite consistent scoring from Eric Martel and Garrett Davis, Valley found themselves chasing the lead throughout the game, until the final two minutes.
With the score at 13-11 in favour of Storm with 1:30 left to go in the game, Valley’s head coach, Kevin Mitchell, called timeout. Sixteen seconds later, Davis found the back of the net pulling Valley to within one. Regaining possession of the ball with less than a minute to go, Valley looked to the hot hand of Davis again, and the young lefty made no mistake, putting the ball firmly into the mesh, past Storm’s goalie. The home crowd at Walnut Grove was treated to an exciting finish, but neither team could pull ahead with so little time remaining, and the game ended in a 13-13 tie.
Looking ahead, both the U16 boys and girls teams will travel to Calgary this weekend, to compete in the second conference weekend of the 2015/16 NCL season. The girls will aim to extend their undefeated streak, and improve on a league-best +92 goal differential, as they look to repeat as national club champions. Meanwhile, the boys relish a chance to play spoiler as they are locked in a three-way race for two national championship spots. Stay tuned to this space, our Facebook page and Twitter for game updates and full recaps following the conclusion of the tournament.