Without two key major players, can the Victoria Vikes make the CIS Final 8 yet again?
Head coach: Craig Beaucamp
Record in 2014: 15-5 (Second in Pioneer division of Canada West Conference)
Playoffs: Canada West gold; CIS fourth place
Points scored per game: 78.6
Points allowed per game: 70.9
Key players: Mack Roth, Reiner Theil, Brandon Dunlop, Grant Sitton
Key losses: Chris McLaughlin, Marcus Tibbs
With the CIS Final 8 held on the nearby UBC campus this year, the Victoria Vikes won’t have to travel far this season—provided that they make the tournament again, of course. That’s far from a guarantee, Victoria head coach Craig Beaucamp says. “There’s not that much difference between the top and the bottom teams,” he says. “That’s exciting, but it makes it also very challenging as far as getting consistent results.” Also making it challenging will be the month of January, when the Vikes play eight games against playoff teams from last season—including two against their biggest rivals in UBC. “Both teams have had a lot of success over the last long period of time,” Beaucamp says. “It’s a rivalry that’s been very competitive.”
Key games: VS Saskatchewan Huskies, Nov. 13 and 14
VS UBC Thunderbirds, Jan. 29 and 30
The Victoria Vikes are hitting the reset button this season, with the excellent Chris McLaughlin and Marcus Tibbs having graduated.
But head coach Craig Beaucamp is quick to point out that the expectations remain the same. “Our goal is to get ourselves to that national championship tournament and give ourselves a chance to advance to that final game,” he says. “It’s no different even though we’ve had a change of the guard.”
And what a guard it was: McLaughlin finished his turn in Victoria as a first-team All-Canadian, while Tibbs was named to the third-team All-Canada West. “Those are two pretty big cogs to our program last year,” Beaucamp says. “We will have to change a little bit how we play and how we function as a unit. Both of those players created trouble for the other teams.”
The Vikes’ cupboard isn’t bare however, not with seniors Mack Roth and Reiner Theil, and not if Grant Sitton continues his breakout from the CIS Final 8 last season. “Because we’re going to be more equal opportunity and things will spread out a little more,” the head coach says, “there’s a little more opportunity for us to spread out our scoring.”
And for the Vikes to reach the national championships for a fourth season in a row. “That’s a daunting task every year no matter the group (of players) you have,” Beaucamp says. Also a daunting task? Improving upon the two fourth-place finishes of the past two seasons.