A Year in Review: Quidditch Canada’s 2016-17 Season – The Top Three

Summer is a time for reflecting over the achievements from the past season. The Quidditch Post presents our new 7-part series reviewing the 2016-17 seasons of all 21 league-official Quidditch Canada teams, starting with the top-three teams in the country (by final rankings).

1. University of Ottawa Quidditch DeeGees – Lisa Tubb

The Ottawa-based teams have always been seen as the crown jewel of Canadian talent, and UOttawa has captured multiple regional and national-level titles over the years. The beginning of the 2016-17 season saw a massive facelift to the organization, as the GeeGees became the DeeGees. Quidditch is slowly yet surely gaining official recognition across Canadian campuses, but the reported loss or voluntary exiting of this team from its former roots hit home for many teams, at least in the East. Seeing one of the best teams in the nation move away from this raised some eyebrows and concerns for the DeeGees’ season.

uOttawa DeeGees with a snitch catch at Vive le Quidditch Libre III | Photo Credit: Vanessa Kraus

Regardless, in their usual fashion, the DeeGees steamrolled past opponents Université de Montréal (UdeM) and Canada’s Finest Quidditch Club, but struggled to achieve a narrow victory over Valhalla Quidditch (90*-70) early in the season at the Vive le Quidditch Libre tournament in Montréal. The Quidditch Canada Eastern Regional Championship for the DeeGees was a mixed bag; they showcased the formidable abilities that we are used to seeing against Quidditch Lionel-Groulx and Carleton Ravens, but they played a dangerously close game against McGill Quidditch (120*-100) and were on the receiving end of a shocking loss to Guelph (80*-50). After a night’s rest to collect themselves and rehabilitate, the DeeGees came out in full force to defend their championship title, soundly defeating the University of Guelph Gryphons 210*-80.

While their official season only lasted a semester, the DeeGees again managed to defend their regional title. Although their season began with a few growing pains and seemed to sputter at moments, the DeeGees fought in a tenacious manner across the board. Chasers seem to delicately balance physicality and technical finesse, while beaters hardly lose bludger superiority. Arguably the highlight of the team, however, is its intensely consistent seeking game. Of their 12 officially recorded games, the DeeGees’ seekers have caught nine snitches. Perhaps with the potential return of Nationals to eastern Canada, and the extension of their season because of this, the DeeGees’ minor growing pains in the fall semester will not hinder them from putting up a serious fight at another national title.

2. Valhalla Quidditch – Alex Scherger

Editor’s Note: Alex Scherger is a player for Valhalla Quidditch.

Starting the 2016-17 season with early August tryouts, Valhalla beefed up its roster with several key additions from highcaliber Ontario teams, including UOttawa, Queen’s University Quidditch, and Waterloo Ridgebacks Quidditch. This team also boasts all three Team Canada keepers in its roster, as well as several other wily veterans who brought home a fourth place finish at the IQA World Cup in Germany this past July.

Valhalla had a strong start to the season against teams not quite settled into their new lineups, reaching the finals at their first three tournaments, including a tournament win at Guelph’s fall competition. However, the hype train soon lost some momentum when Valhalla fell short of expectations at Eastern Regionals with a loss against a physical and energetic Guelph team in the quarterfinals. After regionals, Valhalla trudged on through what few unofficial tournaments existed in the latter half of the season, playing well but still falling short of some tournament titles and trading Guelph for wins (a theme between these rivals all season).

Valhalla Quidditch faces off UBC Thunderbirds in the bronze medal match | Photo Credit: JYK Photography

Arriving at Nationals with a squad poised for gold, Valhalla dominated the first day, going undefeated with confident beater play and a refined offense, more patient and coordinated than previous iterations of Valhalla that were known to be a trigger-happy squad with adept mid-to-long range shooting. A close rematch with Guelph in the semifinals halted Valhalla’s gold medal aspirations and handed its only loss at Nationals. Valhalla did find some solace in a bronze medal victory over the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds Sports Club (UBC TSC), and is headed back to the drawing board to round out the elusive components (i.e. finding ways to increase quaffle differential via fewer defensively uncontested goals and increasing offensive output with different attack strategies or increased shooting) seemed to be preventing them from a championship season.

3. University of British Columbia Thunderbirds Sports Club – Nathan Ross

It was perhaps not the all-triumphant return to Quidditch Canada that UBC TSC wanted, but this season was a dominant statement by the Thunderbirds that proclaimed “we are here and not going anywhere.”  UBC TSC made its entry into Canadian quidditch and had a strong year, winning the Quidditch Canada Western Regional Championship, the Quidditch Conference of the Northwest’s (QCON) inaugural season, and – in all honesty – being a coin flip away from the national championship game in Victoria.

It is easy to admire what UBC TSC has done this past year, but credit where credit is due: it has worked hard for it. Since becoming an official sports club with the University of British Columbia, there were questions if it could still be as dominant if its roster consisted of only UBC students, with the rest of the community making up the UBC Quidditch Club team. UBC TSC started off on the right foot by naming Lendl Magsipoc its head coach, an excellent former Thunderbird who would not have been eligible to play for the club as he is not a student.

TSC and Valhalla seekers in a heated matchup during the bronze medal game | Photo Credit: Mills Photography

The question was raised after UBC TSC’s first tournament of the year of whether its hyper-aggressive play would lead the team into costly penalty trouble throughout the year. Looking back, the answer is both yes and no. Yes, UBC TSC was one of the highest penalized teams in the league, but it never ended up costing the team. With the lineup that it is able to boast, UBC TSC is capable of never missing a beat regardless of whichever six take the lineup. Despite the possibility of losing Team Canada seeker Austin Wallace for next season, UBC TSC will be a powerhouse for the foreseeable future.

This article is part of a series of season recaps. The next part of our series will recap the seasons of McGill University Quidditch, Edmonton Aurors Quidditch, and the Waterloo Ridgebacks.

Editor’s Note: A previous version of this article stated that Austin Wallace would be departing from UBC TSC. Wallace may play during the fall semester next season. This article has been updated to reflect this change.