Field Hockey Preview: Perennial powers clash to open CW season

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EDMONTON – The nation’s most dominant university field hockey programs return to action this weekend, as the UBC Thunderbirds and Victoria Vikes open the 2017 Canada West (CW) season.

Bitter rivals, the T-Birds and Vikes open their respective schedules with games Saturday and Sunday in Victoria (11 a.m. PDT both days), as the pair begin 2017 the same way they ended 2016 – going head-to-head in a rivalry that has come to define university field hockey in Canada.

Last season ended November in Toronto with the Thunderbirds claiming a record sixth consecutive national title, edging the Vikes 2-1 in a shootout. Now, the pair are aiming for the early West Coast edge in the race for a CW title.

Once again this season, the CW champion will be crowned based on the regular season standings. More important than conference bragging rights, the chance to play for a national title at home will also be up for grabs, as the CW champion earns the privilege of hosting the best-of-three Field Hockey Canada U SPORTS national final the first weekend of November against the Ontario University Athletics champion.

It would be a massive surprise if the T-Birds, or Vikes don’t earn that right, as the pair have combined to win the CW title outright every season dating back to 1975.

Rounding out the CW competition are the Calgary Dinos, who are looking for their first conference win since the 2011 season – the last year CW featured four teams. The Dinos open the season at home next weekend with a pair of games against UBC (Sept. 23 and 24).

 

 UBC THUNDERBIRDS

2016 CW regular season record: 6-0-2, 1st

Last CW championship / total CW championships (if no championships, list highest previous finish): 2016 / 24

Last U SPORTS championship / total U SPORTS championships (if no championships, list highest previous finish): 2016 / 18

2016 CW regular season ranks:

Offence: 25 goals, 1st

Defence: 4 goals against, 1st

2016 CW regular season leaders:

Goals: 6 – Steph Norlander, Forward/midfielder

 

Wins: 5 – Gabriella Switzer, Goaltender

Key additions (name / position / eligibility / hometown / last team):

Jordyn Faiczak / Forward / 1 / Waterloo, Ont. / Canadian Jr. National Team

Sara Goodman / Defender / 1 / Duncan, B.C. / Canadian Jr. National Team

Thora Rae / Midfielder / 1 / Vancouver, B.C. / Canadian Jr. National Team

Key losses (name / position / hometown / years with program):

Hannah Haughn / midfielder / North Vancouver, B.C. / 5

Rachel Donohoe / defender / North Vancouver, B.C. / 4

Gabby Jayme / midfielder / Richmond, B.C. / 5

Key performer:

Sarah Keglowitsch

Midfielder

5th-year

Shawnigan Lake, B.C.

A co-captain on the team, Keglowitsch’s technical skill and ability to read the game will be key to ensuring both attacking and defensive success this year for UBC. She is a two-time Canada West All-Star, a U SPORTS Championship All-Star in 2015, and a former Canada West Rookie of the Year. The midfielder from Shawnigan Lake, B.C., is going for her fifth career U SPORTS women’s field hockey championship, and the T-Birds will aiming to claim their seventh national title in a row.

 

 CALGARY DINOS

2016 CW regular season record:  3rd

Last CW championship / total CW championships: 1974 / 2

Last U SPORTS championship / total U SPORTS championships: 2011 (silver)

2016 CW regular season ranks

Offence: 2 goals, 3rd

Defence: 37 goals against, 3rd

2016 CW regular season leaders:

Goals: 1 – Jessica Britton, Midfield

Assists: 1 – Marion Arnott, Defender

Key additions (name / position / eligibility / hometown / last team):

Emily Smith/midfield/1st/Calgary/FHA U18

Emily Tollafield/midfield/1st/London/U of Exeter

Key losses (name / position / hometown / years with program):

Jessica Britton/Midfield/Rossland/5

Key performer:

Sabrina Wong

Defence

3rd-year

West Vancouver, B.C.

Sabrina is the base to the Dinos’ defensive structure. She is excellent at organizing the defense and being in the right spot to break down attacks from the opposition. She leads by example by playing at 100% every game. She also controls the game well at the back and is the starting point for many of the team’s attacks.

 VICTORIA VIKES

Last CW championship / total CW championships: 2016 / 19

Last U SPORTS championship / total U SPORTS championships: 2008 / 11

2016 CW regular season ranks:

Offence: 20 goals, 2nd

Defence: 7 goals against, 2nd

2016 CW regular season leaders:

Goals: 4 – Amanda Kurianowicz, F

Wins: 4 – Larissa Piva, GK

Key additions (name / position / eligibility / hometown / last team):

Leina Dueck / F / 1 / North Vancouver, BC / Team BC

Anna Mollenhauer / D / 1 / Victoria, BC / Canada Junior Development Squad

Ashton Aumen / D / 1 / Duncan, BC / Team BC

Hannah Craig / D / 1 / Duncan, BC / Team BC

Robin Fleming / GK / 1 / Duncan, BC / Team BC

Key losses (name / position / hometown / years with program):

Annie Walters-Shumka / D / Victoria, BC / 5

Kathleen Leahy / M / Victoria, BC / 5

Amanda Kurianowicz / F / Calgary, AB / 5

Lizzie Yates / D / Cobble Hill, BC / 4

Rosie Beale / D / Victoria, BC / 5

Key performer:

Kristina Walters-Shumka

Defender

4th-year

Victoria, BC

Walters-Shumka enters her fourth-year as a Vike ready to take on a larger leadership role both on and off the field for a young team that features just six players in their fourth or fifth year of eligibility. A solid defender, Walters-Shumka reads the game well and has the ability to make everybody else on the field better.

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