March 25, 2013, Vancouver, (ISN) – The Vancouver Pacific Storm water polo club has been crowned 2013 Champions of the National Development Premier League (NDPL) on Sunday, March 24 by winning a hotly contested gold medal game 14-13 to the joint squad formed by Montreal-based CAMO and Ottawa’s Titans.
The Pacific Storm, also host of the event, was ranked number-one during the league’s regular season and was able to rely on this momentum to defeat its Eastern rival. The Championship game started at 2:30 (Pacific UTC-8) at the Vancouver Aquatic Centre and was preceded by the bronze medal game where the Calgary Torpedoes won 15-9 over the Mavericks from Etobicoke, Ontario.
A good level of anticipation had built over the ultimate game to be played in the Finals since CAMO-Titans had managed to best the league’ defending champions and number-two seed Calgary Torpedoes in the event’s first semi-final game on Saturday evening. Observers were keen to see how the hybrid squad would continue to display team unity in order to overcome some of the challenges involved when combining players from different units. The team did not disappoint and played an incredibly tight game where both clubs went back and forth, never managing to keep more than a 3-goal spread from the opposing team at any time during the game.
Despite Pacific Storm getting the first goal within the first thirty seconds of the game, CAMO-Titans had managed to take a one-point lead towards the middle of the first quarter but let Storm even things out at 5:02 in the 2nd. CAMO-Titans pulled away once more and completed the first half with an 8-6 score. The pattern however reversed itself with Vancouver scoring six goals in the 3rd quarter to lead 12-9 by the time the 4th period began. Despite continued efforts by CAMO-Titans, including a noticeable performance by captain Bileh Talah who recorded 7 goals in the game, the Storm did not relinquish its lead and was able to conclude with a 14-13 final score.
“It is a great feeling to win the NDPL Championship,” said Sean Spooner, who was named Playoff and Regular Season Most Valuable Player. “After having come in third last year, this was our goal and we were working towards it the entire season.”
“We had the opportunity to play the top 18U teams in the country throughout the NDPL season,” said Nikola Maric, coach of the Pacific Storm and chosen as Most Valuable Coach in the league for a second year. “The experience we gained should help us in our execution as we begin the final preparation for the 18U and 16U National Club Championships. I am very pleased with these young men and with their dedication to the team and to achieving their goals.” This was the Storm’s second presence in the Finals and the team had entered the weekend with an impressive record of 13 wins and 3 losses in regular season.
These playoffs wrapped up the NDPL’ second season and hopes are already high for next year. “We would like to thank everybody who participated this year and also thank the Pacific Storm for hosting these great Finals. The NDPL is going to keep on growing and we are hoping for 8 teams to participate in 2013/2014,” said Dragan Jovanovic, Water Polo Canada’s High Performance Director for the national men’s team and one of the creators of the NDPL. “We are well on our way to having an important tool for selecting athletes for our national team programs and it’ll be interesting to see how the caliber of play will continue to increase next year.”