The 2013 Canada Games are just about to get underway, and we’ll be there bringing you the latest news and all the action. But first, here are our favourites to take home the gold in the 2013 Canada Games men's indoor preview.
The Games are being held in Sherbrooke, Quebec, and the host Province may have one of the most exciting teams competing, led by none other than hometown boy, and quite possibly the future of our National team, Nick Hoag. The youngest Hoag just finished his time as Captain of the National B team, and even appeared in a World League match this year against Portugal. He will undoubtedly be among the strongest players of the tournament.
Looking past a player who may or may not have been destined for greatness at birth, Quebec’s team will provide a solid supporting cast to surround him. Jean-Philippe Desjardins spent the summer training with the Junior National team and will be a presence in the middle, while libero Vincent Thibault-Bernier wowed fans at the 2013 CIS Championships with some impressive defense for Champions Laval. Quebec finished 2nd at last year’s NTCC, and have returned all important pieces this year as well.
Otherwise, tournament favourites are the usual suspects. British-Columbia is coached by Trinity-Western Head Coach Ben Josephson, which means they’re most impactful member may not even be an athlete. With five Spartans on the roster, this team could very well be the well oiled machine that we’ve become accustom to during Josephson’s reign.
The team has notable standouts like 2012 Junior National team members Tyler Koslowsky and UBCO’s Jim Bell, as well as 2010-2011 member Branden Schmidt. But the team will ultimately be led by 2013 CIS 1st All-Canadian Nick Del Bianco. Del Bianco already has a wealth of International experience, having competed at the 2011 World Club Championships with Trinity Western, and having represented Canada on four separate occasions on the beach at Junior and Youth World Championships, and even grabbing a bronze medal on a 2012 NORCECA Beach Tour stop. The Spartan leftside also led the Canada West in kills in 2013.
Gold medalists from the 2012 NTCC’s, Ontario, have some serious holes to fill due to the Junior National team. CIS Rookie of the year Danny Demyanenko will be absent, as will three other players eligible for Ontario’s team.
Regardless, Ontario’s depth may be there saving grace. The Marauder duo of Jori Mantha and Dan Groenveld will most likely hold down the leftside, will another Marauder, Austin Smith, will compete with another National beach player, Andrew Kocur, to run the offence. Both setters bring different styles of play, and will have to complement each other well if Ontario is to take home the Gold. Look for Ryerson’s Rob Wojcik to put some big numbers on the right side as well.
Alberta’s team will be supported by a few surprise omissions from the Junior National squad, as Brooke Sedore and Scott Brunet both competed for Canada in 2012. Sedore’s physicality and strong serving game could push Alberta over the edge, but the most important piece of the puzzle may be setter, and 2013 CIS All-Rookie team member, Brett Walsh. Walsh was expected by many to be heading to Turkey for the 2013 World U21 Championships, but Alberta is definitely not complaining, as he placed 6th in the Canada West for Assists in his freshman season.
Finally, Manitoba’s roster is slightly younger than the other medal favourites. With the obvious gap that Casey Schouten and Jarrid Ireland, Manitoba will have to look towards younger players to step up in Sherbrooke. Only three players on their roster have cemented themselves as starters on their respective CIS rosters.
The roster is bolstered by the presence of setter Josh McKay and libero Riley Delavau, both of whom wore the red and white last summer. Offensively, Manitoba will look to middle Kenny Rooney, who just came off a great rookie season with the Bisons and was named to the CIS All-Rookie team. This tournament will give a chance for someone to step up and make a name for themselves, and carry it into the 2013 CIS season.
The other provinces who will be competing are Saskatchewan, Newfoundland, PEI, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and the Yukon. Amongst them, only Nova Scotia and Saskatchewan have previously finished in the top five at the Canada Games, and with the wealth of talent brought by the five biggest provinces, they'll have a tough time reaching the semi-finals.
Don't miss the Gold Medal match on TSN2 on August 8th!