Team Feature: Ottawa Black Bears
by Jonathan Parent The Ottawa Black Bears lucked out in their inaugural year by assembling arguably the best slew of Canadian quidditch players ever to lace up and mount. Now that the NHL playoffs have concluded, the Black Bears can turn their attention to their first series of games this upcoming weekend against the heavily favored Boston Night Riders.
If the Black Bears can stay within snitch range until the 18-minute mark, don’t be surprised to see them pulling off a victory. The Bears rely on multiple grade-A seekers such as Félix Tremblay (Université de Montréal), Cayden Peixoto (North Star), and Alex Naftel (Carleton University), who only need a few seconds of unsupervised alone time with the snitch to get the biscuit. While Canadian beating may not be nearly as aggressive or impressive when compared to American beating, the seeker beating has evolved to a very effective shutdown system of play that renders opposing seekers frustrated and exhausted. A beater corps worthy of national colours led by Carleton University’s Colin Wallace and North Star’s tandem Erin McCrady and Mathew McVeigh, the Black Bears’ beaters will look to be making opposing seekers run their fair share of back and forths, so to speak. Whatever Ottawa beaters may lack in speed or size, they make up in accuracy and poise. When compared to the average Canadian quidditch team, the Black Bears can rejoice in finding a much heavier and hard-hitting roster. Led by chasers Matt Bourassa (Carleton University), Michael Fishman (McGill University), and Adam Robillard (North Star), the Bears do not sacrifice speed for strength.
Beater Mathew McVeigh | Photo Credit: Isabella Gong Photography
The Black Bears will have to rely strongly on their chaser game for both offense and defense. With no big names in the keeper zone, playmaking will flourish mainly from chasers, and shutting down opponents will be a heavy burden on the beaters and backchecking chasers. Much of the roster has not seen official action since the Canadian National tournament in British Columbia this past April, and some have not laced up since regionals in February. The Black Bears will have to be able to shake off the rust and hope their cardio is up to the task. Playmakers
Chaser Robyn Fortune | Photo Credit: Isabella Gong PhotographyWhile Ottawa boasts a well-rounded roster with not many players who stand out too much, look for chaser Adam Robillard to spark the offense, while Colin Wallace shuts it down from near or far. The Black Bears can rely on excellent female chasers, led Robyn Fortune (McGill University), Jenn Magel (Carleton University), and Cait Woolner (Carleton University). Whether it be scoring, creating turnovers, or playmaking, these gals can do just about anything while making it look easy. Nonetheless, the underdogs of the East division will have to count on superstar performances from every one of their players if they hope to have a shot at victory. Preview: Ottawa Black Bears vs. Boston Night Riders
by Jonathan Parent and Andy Marmer The Black Bears will kick off their summer season this weekend with a roster that can be qualified as an unofficial team Canada. Ottawa will therefore be able to throw almost everything Canada has to offer at their opponents, the Boston Night Riders. Drawing heavily from the Ottawa, Montréal and Toronto regions, the Bears use lightning quick rushes on offense and accurate beating, rather than physicality, on defense. Although Ottawa can rely on chaser lines consisting of former teammates, most players on the roster have not had much experience playing with one another and may find that lack of familiarity to be an obstacle; especially when facing a team like the Night Riders that can benefit from well refined chemistry. The Night Riders’ likewise kick off their season this weekend, reviving the tradition of summer quidditch in the sport’s First City. While the Night Riders don’t draw from as geographically diverse an area as many of their East Division rivals, this should prove a boon to the team early on as most players will be familiar with each other, either from lengthy careers as teammates, the city’s numerous fantasy tournament, or past summer experience on the Esplanade. While the chemistry should provide a distinct advantage, Boston also, not surprisingly given the number of top teams calling the city home, features one of the most talented rosters in the league. Boston’s female chaser depth is one of the best ever assembled (second perhaps only to the fearsome women of the Southwest on Lone Star Quidditch Club and the University of Texas’ rosters). Tufts University’s Hannah DeBaets has proven herself an all-world talent, making Team USA last summer, and Emily Hickmott and Carli Haggerty (Tufts and Harvard Horntails respectively) offer quality depth. The class of the city’s female chasers may allow the team to deploy a two-male beater set, allowing the hyper-aggressive Max Havlin (QC Boston: The Massacre) room to operate alongside many of the Northeast’s top beaters including Andrew Miller and Aaron Wohl. Boston’s weakest link as a city has always been at seeker, and while Harry Greenhouse, formerly of the University of Maryland, has returned to his hometown, his absence this weekend could prove costly in a close game. Key Matchups:
Matthew McVeigh and Erin McCrady vs. Max Havlin
McVeigh and McCrady are a beater tandem who have played together for the past several seasons first with the University of Ottawa Gee-Gees and this past season with North Star Quidditch. Their experience together will help them get a leg up on the history that Havlin shares with his team. They are very effective at seeker beating and maintaining BS. However, this duo will meet unyielding resistance from Havlin whose fierce offensive pressure is something Ottawa players may not know how to handle having not faced the hyper-aggressive Northeast beaters much in the past season. Adam Robillard and Michael Fishman vs. David Fox and Jayke Archibald
These four players will likely be the linchpin of their respective teams’ offenses. All four are exceptionally talented, possessing the size and speed you’d want in any quaffle player. If one group outplays the other that could be a big turning point in the match. With strong, aggressive chasers on both sides, the beater gap is what will lead to Ottawa’s downfall. If the Black Bears can somehow manage to keep within snitch range until the snitch is inserted into play, then they will have a good shot at an upset. This will be easier said than done and it is expected that Boston will take all three games OSR.
Depth: Boston Preview: Indianapolis Intensity vs. Rochester Whiteout
by Andy Marmer Just three weeks into the season, the Indianapolis Intensity look to wrap up the MLQ North Division facing the Rochester Whiteout in the former’s final regular season series. Having swept Detroit, 3-0 in the first week, and taking two out of three against Cleveland last week, the Intensity can secure the title with a series win. In their final matchup, they will, for the third straight week, face a team making its MLQ debut: the Rochester Whiteout. A few weeks ago, Indianapolis would have been a surprise frontrunner, but they’ve ridden a familiar formula to success: chemistry and seeking. Jason Bowling emerged as a star this fall leading Ball State in a series of ISR wins and he’s started off the MLQ season doing the same for the Intensity who are 4-0 in snitch range games. Indianapolis also features a large core of Ball State players who naturally know how to play together. This, combined with the fact that its opponents have all played their first game as a team against Indianapolis has surely allowed Indianapolis to benefit from its already in place chemistry. Captain Tyler Walker is a big part of this chemistry and, while he began to emerge with a black headband last summer, a year spent mostly away from the sport might have caused some to forget how truly skilled he is as a beater. Walker has quieted all skeptics this summer, and is probably an early contender for MLQ MVP. While Indianapolis benefits from its existing chemistry, the Whiteout will begin to establish chemistry this summer that should bleed through into the USQ regular season when many of the players will team up as part of Rochester United. Though as many of the squad come from the University of Rochester and RIT Dark Marks, two teams with close familiarity with one another, there should be a spot of chemistry here as well. Spending the regular season in Boston, among some of the world’s top players, Jon Jackson is a chaser who is often overlooked. The Harvard Horntails star should be a good complement to keeper Shane Hurlbert in leading the Whiteout offense. The key for Rochester though will be containing Intensity beaters Walker and Alex Leitch, since both are hyper-aggressive and can wreak havoc on their opponents. While Rochester does have a number of talented beaters, led by Alex Venuti, it’s difficult to see them being able to contain the Intensity’s lineup. Seeker will be crucial for the Whiteouts. Kyle Sanson and Mike Pascutoi will need to contain Bowling and make some quick catches to give Rochester a chance. Key Matchups:
Jason Bowling vs. Rochester Seekers
The Indianapolis seekers have been on fire with five catches, three by Bowling, two in snitch range. The Intensity are talented enough that it’ll be difficult for Rochester to get them out of range throughout the match and if they can’t do that, the Rochester seekers led by Sanson and Pascutoi will need to seal victory for their squad. Danielle Anderson vs. Sara Smacher and Lisle Coleman
We covered Walker’s phenomenal season above, yet every good beater needs an equally reliable partner. For Walker, that’s Anderson. While Rochester will have a tough time taking Walker fully out of his element, if it can effectively counter Anderson, it has a chance of controlling beater play. That task will largely fall to Smacher and Coleman. I’d like to say that the division won’t be locked up three weeks into the season, but Indianapolis is on such a role, and has the tools to handle Rochester. Look for Indianapolis to grab the first game around the edge of snitch range (let’s say 100*-40), and take the series 2-1 with one win OSR, one win ISR and a Rochester win ISR.
Chemistry: Indianapolis (narrowly)