EX STRONG CONTENDER 2014
By Master Corporal Mike Baker
This year, Strathconas participated in another exciting and challenging week of sports, known as Exercise STRONG CONTENDER. The Regiment put together teams for the following events: Ball Hockey, Indoor Soccer, Ice Hockey, Volleyball, Basketball, Curling, and the Tactical Athlete challenge. Due to a busy fall training cycle, Strathcona’s got off to a late start with team training sessions, but that did not hinder our performance
The basketball team had seen very little action prior to the competition but they performed well under the leadership of team coach Corporal Jeremy “Dunny” Dunford. Once the schedule was released, the team realized STRONG CONTENDER would be a definite struggle as we faced the reality of playing back-to-back games late at night each day! Night one started off with a tough loss against 1 RCHA by a mere seven points followed by a disheartening loss to 3 PPCLI. On the second night, the team was determined for success and pushed for a two point win over 1 CER which came down to an incredible defensive effort and one final shot by 1 CER. Game two of the second night favoured 1 PPCLI, who came out strong from the beginning, creating an insurmountable lead and took the game by a decisive 21 points. Night three of the exercise saw LdSH (RC) playing 1 Svc Bn – a game that would ultimately determine our team’s fate for the remainder of the tournament. We performed great during the first half of the game and went into halftime with a two point lead; however, 1 Svc Bn slowly picked away at the lead with one three-pointer after another. Unfortunately, we lost to 1 Svc Bn, eliminating the Regiment from the basketball playoffs and ending the team’s week much earlier than originally hoped.
Strathcona’s Volleyball team was well lead under coach and team captain Master Corporal Mike Baker. The team started off Monday with a heart-breaking loss to 1 RCHA in two straight sets but really took the fight to the heavily favoured 3 PPCLI team losing in two very close sets later that day. These challenges set the tempo for the team’s return the next day as we performed well against a solid 1 CER, escaping with a very narrow victory by only two points in game 3 of the best of 3 series. Losing to 1 PPCLI later that day led the team to a final game against 1 Svc Bn which would decide our hopes for playoffs. The team came out strong in the first set, dominating the exhausted 1 Svc Bn team; however, they fought back in the second set to take one from our team, forcing a tie break to see who would move forward to the playoffs. In a nail-biting, gut-wrenching third set our team prevailed by a mere two pints to earn a spot in the playoff against 3 PPCLI. Losing to 3 PPCLI in the first round, we played 1 RCHA for the bronze. The team battled through the best of five series, pushing 1 RCHA to four games. A final game loss of 25-23 saw our team finish fourth overall.
Both the basketball and volleyball teams put forth great efforts and overcame great challenges throughout the sports competition. Many players went home battered, bruised, stiff, and sore but everyone gave everything they had and left it all out on the floor. Each team did well, and notable mention goes out to our curling team who won GOLD. Overall, Strathconas performed outstanding throughout the week’s sporting events, but most importantly everyone fostered our team spirit and had fun!