14 The Chronicle December 19 - 25, 2017 chronicle.durhamcollege.ca Sports Dekota Kirby (#5, right) and Victoria Brody (#13, left) have been leaders for the Lords this season, but the team needs to find consistency in 2018, says coach Heather LaFontaine. Photographs by Matt Henry Lords want consistency in 2018 Durham hopes to find stride in new year Matt Henry The Chronicle It has been an up and down season for the Durham Lords women’s basketball team. The team fell to .500 (5-5) after finishing the 2017 calendar year with back-to-back losses at home to the Seneca Sting and the undefeated George Brown Huskies. Fifth-year coach Heather La- Fontaine said “we have the ability to play really well and we look tremendous, but we also have the ability to fall apart. So now it’s just a matter for the group to get consistent and put together a whole game.” LaFontaine also said even though guards Maddie Dender, Emily Glendinning, Dekota Kirby and Victoria Brody are averaging double digits in scoring, the path to victory starts on the defensive side of the ball. “Some of them are defending, and some are not. I need all of them to buy into playing some defense. You can shoot the ball. I mean there are games we’re going to shoot the lights out and it’s not going to matter, there are other games where you’re not shooting the lights out and you have to rely on your defense.” A fast-paced, transitional game is what the Lords’ bench boss is looking for from her squad in the new year. The mindset needed to be successful on the court is in the fast movement of the basketball, looking to create more opportunities on both ends of the floor, LaFontaine said. “I like a fast game. I want to run. Which means you got to be able to defend in the full court. My philosophy is let’s go out push pace, push the envelope, let’s play hard and that starts on the defensive end.” With five wins on the season, La- Fontaine said she has seen flashes of brilliance in her club. But their record also indicates there are lapses on the court, so the Lords are looking to find their cadence. “We’re at our best when we are going on all gears,” she said. Having not played since Dec. 1, the Lords have had some time to pull the machine into the shop and think about how they will find stability in 2018. Durham returns to the court on Jan. 4, when they play in the Dawson Winter Classic in Dawson, Que. They resume OCAA play on Jan. 12 against Seneca. A laughingstock no more, the Maple Leafs are back There's a bright future in T.O. With a young core leading the charge, the Leafs have a chance to be Stanley Cup champions. The Toronto Maple Leafs made a surprise playoff appearance last season. They started the 2017-18 NHL season at 20-11-1 and are on the path to becoming the league’s next model franchise. The team has the potential to build something special with Auston Matthews, William Nylander and Mitch Marner leading the charge. The team has strong depth and top prospects developing with the American Hockey League’s Toronto Marlies or with their respective college or junior teams. The Leafs had been one of the league’s most consistent teams from the 1980-81 season until the 2003- 04 season, missing the playoffs just Conner McTague eight times in 24 years. Although following the lockout which cancelled the 2004-05 season, the team fell into a decade of futility, from botched draft picks to being unable to decide between retooling or rebuilding, to bad personnel decisions. The Leafs missed the playoffs 11 of the following 12 years. In addition, from 2003 to 2015, they went through four general managers, including John Ferguson Jr., Cliff Fletcher, Brian Burke and Dave Nonis. After Hall-of-Famer Brendan Shanahan became the team’s president in April 2014, the Leafs decided on a full rebuild. Over the next two and a half years, the Leafs changed the face of their franchise: drafting Nylander eighth overall in 2014, Marner fourth overall in 2015 and Matthews first overall in 2016, while trading franchise player Phil Kessel to Pittsburgh and their captain, Dion Phanuef to Ottawa. As rookies last year, Matthews, Marner and Nylander combined for 191 points, a franchise record for points between rookies. Matthews had the best season of them all, scoring 40 goals and adding 29 assists for 69 points to win the Calder trophy. Marner and Nylander had 61 points each. With each of them under the age of 22, the trio has a chance at staying together for a long time. Matthews, Marner and Nylander remind the hockey world of the Pittsburgh Penguins’ youthful core, which included Sidney Crosby, Jordan Staal, Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang, or the Chicago Blackhawks with Jonathan Toews, Patrick Sharp, Patrick Kane and Duncan Keith. Both of those teams have won three Stanley Cups in the last nine years. This gives Leafs' fans hope. The Blackhawks have struggled in recent years as they attempt to stay under the salary cap and maintain a competitive team. The Penguins have won back-to-back cups employing a tactic the Leafs have taken a step further: depth. In addition to Matthews, Marner and Nylander, the Leafs have veterans like James Van-Riemsdyk, Nazem Kadri, and Patrick Marleau. All have scored 30 goals in a season before: a milestone that was only reached by 26 players in the NHL last season. The Leafs also had five players who scored 20 goals last season. Two just narrowly missed the mark: Marner and Tyler Bozak scored 19 and 18 goals, respectively. In a league where goals are hard to come by (just 2.77 per team per game in 2016-17), having multiple players capable of putting the puck in the net as the months grow longer and the competition gets tougher, is vital in order to succeed in both the regular season and playoffs. But the Leafs are built to last. Much like the Penguins, the Leafs have a number of young, talented players on inexpensive contracts, much needed as their core players sign lucrative contracts and the salary cap becomes a concern. The Penguins have won backto-back cups by utilizing young, fast and talented players like Jake Guentzel, Conor Sheary and Bryan Rust in addition to their top-level talent in Crosby, Malkin, Letang and Kessel. The Leafs have followed this path, acquiring young, talented players like Kasperi Kapanen, Jeremy Bracco, Carl Grundstrom and Timothy Liljegren through drafting and trades. Continuing to draft, trade for, develop and keep young talent is vital to any team’s success. It could be the determining factor in how successful the current Leafs era can be. If the Leafs continue to stay their course, they have the potential to be the NHL’s next modern-day dynasty.
chronicle.durhamcollege.ca December 19 - 25, 2017 The Chronicle 15