Contributed by: Matt Riggs
As the Canadian Football season draws to a close, the action promises to get only more intense, with big weekends for footy in all three active provinces, plus the important search for a coach for the national side.
National: Northwind searches for new Head Coach
The Canadian National side, the Northwind, is looking for a new head coach to replace Greg Everett, who guided the side to a 7th place finish last year in Melbourne. The Coach will not only be the coach in game situations, but also the main selector of the side. As well, AFL Canada is planning on having one assistant coach in each province, all to be selected by the head coach. AFL Canada is planning on picking the new coach as soon as possible.
BC: Vancouver wins Premiership, preps for Nationals
In British Columbia, Canada's westernmost province, the North-West Pacific AFL Grand Final was held recently on the Soccer Fields at the University of BC in Vancouver, featuring the Vancouver Cougars, Burnaby Eagles and Seattle Grizzlies, as well as individual players from the Portland Power and Victoria Lions. The Eagles downed the Cougars in the preliminary round, with both sides defeating the Grizzlies, who were winless on the year in two trips to Vancouver, losing all five matches. The Cougars got a second shot at Burnaby in the final, and despite being injured, they did not dissapoint, winning 4.7.31 to 3.7.25. Cougars captain and Forward Pocket Doug Vargo won the BC Goalkicking title with 26, while Dale Wakefield was the leader for Burnaby with 20. The Cougars will be travelling to Las Vegas for the US Nationals where they will meet with the Arizona Hawks, Philadelphia Hawks and the Minnesota Freeze, whose win by default over Vancouver last year was the difference in taking them to the Division 3 final, which they won. The team will be in Division 2, Pool A.
Alberta: Roos ready for US Nationals
Just next door in Alberta, the Calgary Kangaroos are also preparing for a trip to Las Vegas at the end of this week. They will also be in Division 2, but in Pool B, where they'll meet the Dallas Magpies, Baltimore/Washington Eagles and Seattle Grizzlies. The Roos also have some prior experience against one of their opponents as they defeated the Grizzlies by 80 points at the West Coast Challenge in July, en route to repeating as champions. The team has also won the Kewlona Cup and Stampede Cup Tournaments this year as well as the Calgary Gaelic Football tournament and the Roos would love nothing more than to add to their already impressive haul with a win in Vegas. Calgary also played several matches against the Calgary Bears, with plans for the two teams to be fully independent come next year. Until then, the Roos will make their first trip to the nationals. Simply put, I've been told by many seasoned Aussie veterans that the Kangaroos would make an excellent side with former AFLer Brad Copeland as one of the mainstays. Having played against them twice, I don't have any reason to doubt that and they should be favourites to win it all. Editor: if Division 2 sees an all-Canadian final there's sure to be some more controversy is US circles.
Ontario: Canada's oldest league had its preliminary final last weekend in Toronto, check out AFL Canada Vice-President Bill Frampton's preview:
The penultimate game of the 2006 Ontario Australian Football League playoffs takes place this Saturday at 2:00 PM with the Preliminary Final at Humber North Oval in Toronto.
The Etobicoke Kangaroos face the Broadview Hawks with the Toronto Eagles waiting to see which team they'll face in next week's Grand Final.
The 'Roos will be looking to regroup after their surprise loss to the Eagles in the Second Semi-Final when their attack was effectively shut down and they were held to a single goal. Favourites just a few weeks ago, Etobicoke now has to lift their game to earn a rematch.
The Hawks will be looking to build on their win over the Toronto Dingos in the First Semi-Final. They'll need to maintain the momentum they had in the second half last week and carry that into Saturday's game.
The teams have met eight previous times with Etobicoke having seven wins to Broadview's one. When the teams met earlier this year in Round 8 Etobicoke won by 26 points, 9.11 65 to 6.3 39. History favours the Kangaroos but recent form suggests the Hawks might take it. Either way it's a game not to be missed!
As it turned out, the Roos went into the match with several key players out injured, and kicked into a strong wind in the first quarter. Down 33 points at the first break, they slowly worked their way into the game and looked to be in a strong position heading home with the wind. But then the heavens opened and the scoring slowed in the wet conditions. In a great contest Broadview held off the runaway minor premiers, eliminating them from the finals by 13 points. A small consolation will have been Etobicoke rover Matt Savage winning the OAFL's best and fairest award. Hopefully the young club will return just as strong in 2007 with a bit more finals experience under their belts.
This weekend now sees Broadview take on the Toronto Eagles in the 2006 OAFL Grand Final, and a very close match is on the cards. AFL Canada is planning an Aussies versus Canadians curtain-raiser.
Between the Eagles and Hawks in Toronto and a potential new chapter in the Vancouver-Calgary rivalry in Las Vegas it's indeed a very big weekend in Canadian footy. Keep watching WFN for a summary of the year that was in Canada's three Footy provinces, including a club by club summary in the coming weeks.
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