I had the pleasure of partnering with my good friend and teammate, Chuck Aoki, to form our thoughts on how the Canada Cup will pan out!
Great Britain: Seeded #6 going in…..
Joe: Chuck, we just saw this team last month at Lakeshore Foundation, do you think they have the fire power to get on the podium?
Chuck: Yes Joe, I think they do. Jim played in the U.S. and he is a formidable high pointer, and they have a great combination of youth and experience (considering that Alan Ash has been playing since I was sucking on a baby bottle).
C: But Joe, they do have some new players on their roster, who do you think is on their strongest lineup?
J: Jim, Manni, Alan, and Jonny were a really strong line at our May Camp, but they also have the only squad with 2 females. Kylie and Coral are able to provide the .5 reductions in lineups that can pose a threat.
Player to watch: First year Captain Mike Kerr is an intelligent player who never stops hustling. Look for him to have GB ready to compete for a top cross over spot.
Switzerland: Seeded #8 going in:
C: Well Joe what do you know about Switzerland?
J: Honestly Chuck, I don’t know a whole lot about Switzerland in general besides they like to go Skiing, but they did keep Poland from making it to the top cross over at the 2011 European Championships, so they are capable of an upset!
Player to watch: Toni Schillig is the main ball carrier for the team, so he will look to shoulder most of the load at the tournament.
Japan: Seeded #4 going in…..
J: Hey Chuck, hard for us to bring up, but Japan pulled off arguably the biggest upset in their history during the 2012 edition of Canada Cup by beating our team, are they capable of moving up from #4 spot this year?
C: Japan has added depth to their squad with them running a high low of Daisuke Ikezaki and Yukinobu Ike, who looks like he’s sitting on a bar stool while he plays. They will be in the mix for the top 4, but they will face some tough competition be able to crack the championship game.
Player to watch: Let’s break this down from a fundamental standpoint. Hidefumi Wakayama (1.0) will have to bring his A game to Vancouver for Japan to finish in the top 3.
Canada: Seeded #3 going in.
C: Joe, our rivals from the north have 9 holdovers from London. How do you think they’ll fare on their home soil?
J: Well Chuck, they historically get a great home crowd at the Richmond Oval, and the beer guzzling fans will surely be excited to see local favorite Garrett Hickling and Ontario native Dave Willsie pull off the ol’ pick and roll a few more times. Rumor has it that Zak Madell is excited to play wheelchair rugby in his new VMC wheelchair rugby wheelchair! Tom and all the boys at VMC DO make the best chairs in the sport….you should think about jumping into one of those Chuck!
Player to Watch: Already having a running mate in world class 1.0 in Trevor Herschfield, Patrice Dagenais will look to continue to establish himself in Canada’s main lineups.
Denmark: Seeded # 5 going in.
J: Hey there Chuck, Denmark burst onto the scene at the 2013 Denmark Challenge and competed hard to earn their first top 10 ranking. What kind of chance does this team have in Vancouver?
C: They have a tough pool, and their first day starts with Canada and Japan. They will need at least a split on Day 1 if they have any chance to get on the podium. Star 3.0 Leon Jorgenson is flying high after finishing 3rd in the US league this past club season.
Player to Watch: Sebastian Frederiksen (3.5) can come of the bench and provide some added depth to a team that only has 8 players on their roster.
New Zealand: seeded #7 going in.
C: Joe, here’s a question for you. New Zealand did have a stunner of a victory in South Africa against Australia in 2013, so can they put together another signature win ahead of World Championships?
J: Chuck, I think they can possibly pull off an upset looking at the way they played Japan last year at Zonals. They will need a full team effort but you can’t count this team out with 2004 Paralympic Gold Medalists Dan Buckingham and Sholto Taylor leading the way.
Player to Watch: Barney Koneferenisi is a newcomer to international ball, and being able to see him at the Tri-nations tournament in Sydney makes me think that he can be dominant in years to come, and possibly help New Zealand pull off an upset or two.
Sweden: seeded #4 going in.
J: Chuck, this team finished 7th at the 2013 Denmark Challenge and then turned around and stunned Denmark in the final at the European Championships, winning the whole thing. Which team shows up to Canada Cup?
C: Joe, I think the team that showed up to Europeans will show up in Vancouver, because every time you count them out, they end up proving you wrong. My prediction is they will play GB in the opener to one of the closest games of the tournament.
Player to Watch: Tomas Hjert is the engine of this team, and the better he plays the better the team will play.
Australia: Seeded #1 going in.
C&J: They are the odds on favorite to win this Canada Cup as long as they don’t find themselves with a bug, puking on the sidelines. Besides the surprising loss to New Zealand last year, they haven’t been beaten by anyone besides the U.S. since the 2008 Canada Cup! Look for Coach Dubberly to try out his new high pointer Matthew Lewis during some the games this weekend.
Player to Watch: Michael Ozzane will be looking to give the other 0.5s a breather during some of the tougher games.
Chuck’s Bold Prediction: GB will finish in the top 2.
Joe’s Bold Prediction: New Zealand will finish in the top 4
Chuck’s final standings:
2. Great Britain
6. New Zealand
Joe’s final standings:
3. Great Britain
4. New Zealand