By Kira Starr, Vikes Communications
September 10, 2013, VICTORIA – After two intensive trial sessions, the University of Victoria men’s field hockey team traveled to Vancouver for the UBC Invitational pre-season tournament last weekend and came away with a third place finish.
Former Vike Kevin Laidman made his first appearance as head coach for the UVic team along with former team mate and now Vikes assistant coach Gavin Titley. Together Laidman and Titley recruited eight rookies, while welcoming back six veterans from the 2012-13 roster.
In their opening match of the two-day tournament, the Vikes were pitted against the United Brothers. Brothers, who were missing some key players, caught the Vikes on their heels, scoring almost immediately. Despite finding some rhythm, the Vikes fell 2-0 to the premier Brother’s team who proved to be a strong, fit and young squad.
In the afternoon, the Vikes played tournament hosts, the UBC Thunderbirds. The experienced T-Birds scored two quick goals in what look like a repeat of the first game. Sparking a change of pace was third-year Vike Brenden Bissett, who received a pass from junior national team stand out Tyler Klenk. Klenk rang a shot into the top right shelf for the Vikes’ first goal of the tournament.
UBC responded to maintain the lead but Klenk sent a slicing, breakaway pass to rookie Vike Prabh Sahota. Sahota’s reverse stick shot at goal cut the score to 3-2, however the home side punched another goal before the final whistle to take the game 4-2.
“The boys stayed strong throughout the come-back,” said Titley. “We are impressed and pleased with their adjustment and effort in the game.”
On Sunday, the Vikes stuck it through to out-play the Vancouver Hawks in their third game of the weekend. The Hawks took an early 2-0 advantage in the game. Accurate passing patterns between Brenden Bissett, Aiden Pye and Trevor Feehan, freed Feehan to tap the ball in, cutting the lead to one. Soon the Vikes worked their way up the field for another three-way passing goal converted by first-year Toby Owen. The game remained tied at two until senior David Bell’s tackle in the circle sent the Hawks to the penalty stroke mark. Making no errors from the spot, the Hawks took the 3-2 victory over the Vikes.
In a chance for redemption the Vikes played the Hawks in the final game of the tournament, with third place on the line. Taking control, Klenk earned UVic’s first goal with another high chip shot. The Hawks came back to tie the game forcing end-to-end pressure. In the last two minutes Feehan hustled back to assist a defensive play, only to then sprint back up the field to receive a breakaway pass from Bell. One-on-one with the goalkeeper Feehan faked right and slipped the ball into the left corner of the net, to lift the Vikes 2-1 over the Hawks earning their first win and third place of the tournament.
“Kevin [Laidman] and I are pleased with the adjustment the team made in their first tournament,” added Titley. “Many players were asked to play out of their comfort zone, such as Toby [Owen] and Alex Smith who are both first-year goalies but played forward. Allin all, the team curve was positive. We had great effort in all four games and we scored some great goals.”
The Vikes men will open their Vancouver Premier League season with their first home gameon Sept. 21 at 2 p.m. at UVic Field 1.