NPH CIS Team Previews: Fraser Valley Cascades
While still being the top team, have the Fraser Valley Cascades fallen back to the pack in the Explorer division?
Fraser Valley Cascades
Head coach: Adam Friesen
Record in 2014: 17-3 (First in Explorer division of Canada West Conference)
Playoffs: Canada West bronze
Points scored per game: 81.3
Points allowed per game: 69.7
Key players: Kevon Parchment, Mark Johnson, Vijay Dhillon
Key losses: Dominique Brooks, Jasper Moedt, Kadeem Willis
Once again, the Fraser Valley Cascades will battle in the little Explorer division, a six-team outfit amid the vast ocean that is the Canada West otherwise. Explorer teams have the benefit of playing a “home and away” series against every other team in the division, which creates good balance and allows for better and more relevant comparisons between teams. (It precludes from comparisons to other Canada West teams, but that’s another discussion.) In 2015-16, the most challenging foes for the Cascades profile as the UNBC Timberwolves and Thompson Rivers WolfPack, and they’ve already aced the first test over the opening weekend. Fraser Valley’s performances in Kamloops against the WolfPack at the end of November may dictate whether the team heads into the Christmas break with their head held high or buried into notepads while rethinking some things.
Key games: at UNBC Timberwolves, Nov. 20 and 21
at Thompson Rivers WolfPack, Nov. 27 and 28
In the end, the Fraser Valley Cascades really were underrated a season ago. They finished the 2014-15 season with a 17-3 record and won bronze in the Canada West playoffs over the UBC Thunderbirds. Despite that, the Cascades never ranked higher than No. 7 in the CIS Top 10 and finished the season unranked, behind these same Thunderbirds that they beat.
Last season, nothing was enough; Fraser Valley could win and win, but they could never convince the skeptics. At 14-0 in February, for example, they were ranked behind three teams with four losses each, including fellow Canada West Saskatchewan and Victoria.
The Cascades’ main flaw? That they played in the Explorer division. This latter point will not change for at least another year, but will the perception remain that the team isn’t as good? Fraser Valley returns very much the same core that propelled it to last season’s heights: third-team Canada West all-star Kevon Parchment is a well rounded offensive force playing in his final season, and he’ll be helped by fourth-year Mark Johnson and Vijay Dhillon.
Will it be enough? The Cascades are 2-0 this season. They are also unranked.