By Arjun Patel
Following our preview of Quidditch Canada’s Western Regional Championship, Arjun Patel previews Canada’s Eastern Regional Championship, which will be held on Nov. 12 and 13 at the Iceland Fields in Mississauga, Ontario.
Five Players to Watch
Hannah Mazurek – University of Toronto (UofT) Centaurs
The UofT Centaurs have always been known for their strong beater lines. With their veteran beater and co-captain, Sarah Basciano, joining Valhalla Quidditch this season, the beater lines have definitely taken a hit. It is now up to the new de facto beater captain, Hannah Mazurek, to train this season’s rookies. A very capable beater herself, Mazurek often relies on a defensive style, but is still able to provide support to the chaser lines.
|Hannah Mazurek | Photo Credit: Amy Garner|
Centaur beaters conformed to a very conservative style at the Fall Classic last month, focusing mostly on defense and only venturing out to recover bludger control. However, the Centaurs will need full support of their beater lines to succeed at the regional championship. How well Mazurek will be able to utilize the beater potential will not only determine the quality of defense, but also how aggressive the Centaurs’ offensive plays are, making her a key player.
Ittaana Krow – Valhalla Quidditch
Ittaana Krow, a keeper for the community team Valhalla, was also a Team Canada keeper in Germany this summer. Krow has a very physical and imposing playstyle. A combination of good passes, excellent positioning on offense, and strategic plays make him an ideal quaffle carrier.
Krow’s real strengths, however, lie in his defensive play. He often stays close to the hoops and makes use of physical contact that can take down almost anyone, and he is considered by many players to be a “tank.” Krow’s solid defense will be indispensable for Valhalla this season, especially against a lot of top-tier offensive teams.
Tim Lee – UTSC Phoenix
Tim Lee, captain of the UTSC Phoenix, is largely responsible for ushering the team toward a more physical and aggressive playstyle; however, his real contribution to the team lies in his seeker floor contributions. Lee, also a chaser, is the team’s primary seeker; he is also a very capable one, setting a perfect snitch catch record during last season’s Eastern Regional Championship.
|Seeker and Captain Tim Lee | Photo Credit: Ethan Cha|
Last year, Phoenix lacked offense and often relied on Lee to make up for point deficits toward the end of the game. This season, a combination of improved offense and the post-snitch security that Lee is often able to provide may allow UTSC Phoenix to play a very relaxed and offensive game even during the seeker floor.
Devin Dutt – Valhalla Quidditch
Dutt is a veteran of many years now; he originally played for Carleton Quidditch and now plays chaser for Valhalla. Dutt is known for his excellent passes and shooting, often scoring from a medium range. He brings a very aggressive offense on the field, marked by excellent positioning, flanking, and devastating drives. As a fluid utility player who can play all positions if needed, Dutt is very good at reading the field and the flow of the game. Lastly, the morale boost that he brings on the field as a veteran of many years may be his greatest asset, making him another key player for Valhalla.
Julien Bernier – Quidditch Lionel-Groulx (QLG)
Julien Bernier is the player-coach of Quidditch Lionel-Groulx, a new Quidditch Canada league team this season. QLG has prior experience at the CEGEP level, with Bernier being an ex-Université de Montréal player bringing league-level experience. As a very strong chaser himself, with excellent speed and agility, Bernier often relies on his chaser lines to score.
|Bernier at last season’s National Championship | Photo Credit: Ben Holland Photography|
At the Fall Classic tournament, Bernier was able to quickly use his chaser line’s natural strength and speed to QLG’s advantage. Lacking in beater strength, QLG opted to rely on its fast and physical chaser lines both on offense and defense. However, at the Eastern Regional Championship, QLG might find it difficult to break past a lot of the beater-heavy defenses that it will inevitably face. Ultimately, it will be Bernier’s experience and training that will determine how much QLG will improve in the month and a half it has to prepare for the regional championship – making him a key player for QLG.
Three Storylines to Follow
Who will (or can) dethrone the uOttawa Gee-Gees?
Many teams are lining up to challenge the Gee-Gees as this season’s champion. The top teams in Canada have always put up close games; the long-time rivals of the Gee-Gees, McGill Quidditch, who lost to the Gee-Gees last year in the National Championship by a snitch catch, come to mind. Indeed, both teams have clashed many times over the years, and McGill will undoubtedly be looking to dethrone the Gee-Gees this weekend. Last season’s Eastern Regional Championship finalists, Université de Montréal (UdeM), may also be another strong contender this year; UdeM was soundly defeated due to a stark difference in the strength of its beater lines last time around and will look to improve upon that this coming weekend.
However, perhaps the strongest team this season is Valhalla, who only lost to the Gee-Gees by a snitch catch at the Vive Le Quidditch Libre III tournament this October for a final score of 90*-70. With a lot of new veteran talent from the surrounding university teams, Valhalla is stronger than ever. Indeed, Valhalla may be the greatest threat the Gee-Gees face. How well the Gee-Gees cope with the loss of their veteran players, either due to retirement or relocation to another team, remains to be seen.
|The national-title-winning catch by Nick McKnight | Photo credit: Suraj Singh|
Referee Certification Issues
Quidditch Canada implemented its new referee policy this season, making it mandatory for each team to have at least one certified head referee, four certified assistant referees, two certified snitch referees, and one fully certified snitch runner. Though undoubtedly an idea born of good conviction, the implementation and the timeline of the certification procedure did not go smoothly. Since the tests were released on Sept. 20 after beta testing, a lot of teams found themselves without enough time to become certified.
In addition, with the need for field testing for the head referee certification, and a lot of tournaments being full in the East thanks to the minimum three games before regional championship rule, a lot of teams still fail to meet the certification requirements, leaving the gameplay department to come up with alternatives and exemptions. While the policy was born out of good faith, perhaps its implementation could have been done more smoothly.
The New Kids on the Block: Quidditch Lionel-Groulx
It is not everyday that a rookie team like QLG appears on the league stage; when that team proves to be a strong team in its first season, it becomes the new talk of the town. QLG is in its first year of league play, but spent last season at the CEGEP level. It is perhaps this transition period at the CEGEP level that makes it stronger than the average rookie team. Situated in Sainte-Thérèse, Quebec, the team is surrounded by some of Canada’s strongest teams, which will allow it to grow even further.
Headed by player-coach Julien Bernier, QLG seems to be suitable for the fast-paced action we expect to see at the regional championship. Indeed, QLG won two out of three games at Vive Le Quidditch Libre III in early October. The team favoured a very aggressive and fast playing style at Fall Classic a few weeks later, once again coming second. Bernier is confident that the team will at least be in the “middle of the pack” by the end of the regional championship, and he has hopes of breaking into the upper tier. How well QLG does against aggressively offensive teams such as the Gee-Gees, McGill, and UWaterloo Quidditch will depend on how well of a defense it puts up. Nevertheless, all eyes will be on QLG.
Eastern Canada Regional Champion Pick – uOttawa Gee-Gees
The Gee-Gees have been one of the top teams in Canada for many years now. Winning both the Eastern Regional Championship and the National Championship last season, the Gee Gees have established themselves as the team to beat. Not much will surprise this veteran team, as it has been playing since the days of cross-border play in the former IQA. There is a good chance the Gee-Gees will take home the Eastern Regional Championship this season too. A combination of extremely fast and tenacious chaser lines, and arguably the strongest beater lines in Canada supporting the team in all aspects of gameplay, makes the Gee-Gees a formidable opponent.
|The Gee-Gees celebrate their regional championship last season | Photo Credit: Ben Holland Photography|
This season, however, the loss of veteran beaters – Team Canada players Mathew Mcveigh and Erin McCrady in particular – may put the Gee-Gees at a disadvantage. In addition, there are many strong challengers this year, such as long standing rivals McGill, UdeM, and Valhalla. The road to being the champion is not easy, but the Gee-Gees seem ready to defend their title.