By Courtney Butler
On February 25, seven eastern Quidditch Canada (QC) teams and one USQ team met at the University of Guelph for a one day, two-pool tournament, with the top team from each pool playing in the final. Due to the timing of this tournament, which landed during reading week, most teams in attendance were noticeably missing many players. Despite this, teams were still eager to attend because of the lack of tournaments in the winter season. As such, the tournament seemed to have more of a fun and relaxed vibe than many of the other competitive tournaments seen this season, though that may also have been because many of the teams in attendance will not be able to attend the National Championship. The pools for this tournament were as follows:
University of Guelph Gryphons
Royal City Quidditch
Université de Montréal (UdeM)
The first game of the day was played between UdeM and the only American team in attendance, Rochester United. The game started off with some strong passing goals from Rochester, answered by strong, physical play by UdeM. UdeM was able to stay close behind Rochester, answering with goals of their own, but Rochester inevitably pulled away, resulting in a comfortable win on snitch catch with a final score of 160*-50.
The next game saw UTSC take on Waterloo. With Waterloo introducing several new players to its first tournament in this game, the first few minutes were uncharacteristically shaky. However, once UTSC got its bearings, the game quickly turned around, and UTSC was unable to match Waterloo’s speed and beater coordination. With the snitch caught in less than 30 seconds, the game ended 160*-10 in favour of Waterloo.
|UTSC chasers attempt to block a UdeM goal. | Photo Credit: Jelissa Kollaard|
The Rochester-Waterloo matchup was expected to be one of the closer games played, but the game did not start off strong for the Canadian team. Rochester was able to make quick work of the Waterloo defence in the first five minutes of the game, with its strong passes and offensive beater pressure breaking through Waterloo’s front lines. After a timeout in the first seven minutes of the game, Waterloo was able to rework its lines and re-enter the game with a new strategy. The game tightened up, and the beater pressure from Waterloo, headed by Mark Fehrman, stopped Rochester from slowballing and making quick breaks through the defence. However, Waterloo’s passing could not match Rochester’s and many of its shots missed, resulting in a handed 180*-50 win for the American team.
UTSC had a difficult time against two upper-tier teams in eastern Canada, as well as a top-level American team, though its roster has seen great growth this season. UTSC’s passing and beating has improved, and even its tournament attendance has gone up drastically from seasons past. But despite its improvement, UTSC was not yet able to be competitive with the top teams. It would have been nice for the team to get a shot at Royal City, Guelph’s noticeably improved B team, but due to time constraints, no consolation games were played.
UdeM and Waterloo met again at this tournament, with a tight quaffle-point game leading up to the release of the snitch. With UdeM up 10 points on snitch release, Waterloo was able to hold off UdeM seeker Félix Tremblay through tough seeker beating for the few minutes of play, giving the Waterloo seeker some one-on-one time with the snitch. Unfortunately, this time was not enough, and once UdeM beaters attempted to equalize, Tremblay was able to make a fast grab, ending a close game to a score of 90*-70 for UdeM.
The first game saw Carleton take on Valhalla, with both teams boasting new players into their rosters. Carleton was able to pick up Martin Chiasson and Karen Douglas from the Ottawa De-Gees, while Valhalla showed some new female faces, bringing the team up to speed on abiding by the newly-placed gender rule at the beginning of the QC season. Carleton put up a great fight in this game, giving Valhalla a decent run for its money. After half a season of playing, Carleton’s rookies were stronger than ever and showed the most impressive showing we have seen from them thus far. Despite the unusual closeness of quaffle points scored against Valhalla in this game, Valhalla was able to just pull away from Carleton in the late game and win 100*-60 on a snitch catch.
Carleton then played another close game against Guelph, matching Guelph’s physicality and only allowing the Gryphons to sneak by with a snitch catch to win the game with a score of 140*-100. It is clear that Carleton has been focusing on team play, rather than hero balling, and we expect to see a stronger team from them moving into next season.
|A Guelph chaser taking on a Carleton defense. | Photo Credit: Jelissa Kollaard|
Valhalla and Guelph met yet again for another rematch. With both teams heading to the National Championship in April, both are eager to beat the other as the top team from the East to compete in the West. The game started off strong for Guelph, as Valhalla’s defense was lacking and Guelph was able to take advantage with some early goals. Key players Devin Dutt, Lynden Evers, and Michael Howard looked for quick passes resulting in goals to bring Valhalla back into the game, but Guelph was able to equalize with its characteristic physicality on both defence and offence. It was a tight game, but the game ended in a victory for the home team, 160*-110.
Royal City fared well in its pool, despite carrying a smaller roster than usual. The team’s game against Carleton was competitive and fast-paced, allowing the team to show off its improved plays and beater strategies its has been utilizing since the Eastern Regional Championship. Unfortunately, Carleton’s size and physicality beat out Royal City and allowed the team to rack up points, ending in a final score of 160*-10 to Carleton.
Royal City’s game against Guelph was a familiar one, as the two affiliated teams have played each other at other tournaments this season. Predictably, Guelph dictated the game and took an easy win to move onto the finals. Valhalla, being beat out of the finals by Guelph just a few games before, seemed to take it out on Royal City. Valhalla played with extreme physicality, pushing through Royal City’s defense and crushing through their hoops to put up a major point differential. The game ended with a snitch catch from Valhalla’s Jessalynn Tsang, resulting in a win of 240*-50.
The Final – Rochester vs. Guelph
Right off of brooms up, Rochester immediately took the lead, despite an early penalty. Rochester’s ability to effectively utilize the classic American slowball worked in its favour during this time until the team could regroup with its full line and run through the Guelph defence to take an early lead. Guelph attempted to answer by trying offensive beating to squeeze a goal through, but Rochester answered with impressive goals of its own through quick passing. The release of the seekers saw Guelph defending, hoping that the Rochester beaters would be occupied with the seekers to give Guelph time to catch up in the quaffle play. However, the game dragged on, and soon after the first snitch handicap, a tired Guelph team reached for the concession grab to end the game at 140-60*. In a match of each nation’s top-tier teams, Rochester came out on top.
|A Guelph seeker attempts to seek-block Rochester’s seeker. | Photo Credit: Jelissa Kollaard|
Although many teams were down their regular, full strength rosters at this tournament, many teams, such as Waterloo and Valhalla, introduced rookies to the sport. Valhalla has put in a serious effort to recruit more females to be able to abide by the new gender rule, and its efforts showed this past weekend with notable new faces who proved to be transitioning well into their lines.
With Guelph and Valhalla having faced each other several times this season, their rivalry only continues to grow as they will both be the only Eastern teams travelling to Quidditch Canada’s National Championship. Both teams each have wins over the other this season, but the last few have gone in favour of Guelph, making Valhalla hungry to settle the score. Western teams should look to see strong competitive and physical play from both sides, and if the two are to meet again in Victoria this April, it will be a fiery game of high stakes.
Rochester United travelled quite a distance to be able to compete at this tournament, and may have been expecting more, as it took strong wins against every other team. What separated them from the Canadian teams was its seamless passes, positioning, and movement off-ball that showed a clearly practiced team. Rochester had a very strong showing, and Canadian teams would greatly benefit from having more American teams crossing the border in the coming seasons.