1. Dramatic Finals
When London managed to beat Halifax in Game 1 of the 2015/16 NBLC Finals at Scotiabank Centre, many within the league were shocked. In fact, they were only the third team (Saint John, Windsor) to win in Halifax all season. When top-ranked Halifax took three straight, including two wins in London, and had London on the ropes, it once again sent shockwaves through the league. This series was the most exciting in NBLC history. Save for Game 5, when London managed to shoot the lights out to send the series back to Halifax, each contest was incredibly close. No team could get a substantial advantage, slogging it out over seven games. The most exciting moment of the whole series came in the following contest, when Stephen Maxwell’s last-second putback sent London in a frenzy. In the end, Halifax took down the Lightning at home, as their depth, especially in the front court, was simply too much for the short-handed Bolts. But as someone wise once said, “It’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey.”
2. Halifax's Depth
From the first weekend of the 2015/16 NBL Canada season, it was clear that the Hurricanes were something special. From Clifford Clinkscales’ veteran leadership, to Canadian Joel Friesen's efficient contributions, to the massive Mike Glover, the Halifax Hurricanes sported the deepest roster seen in the NBLC since the 2013/14 Windsor Express and 2012/13 London Lightning. Six players averaged above 10ppg in the playoffs, bringing in an average of 78 points per contest between them. Whether it be Glover, who picked up sixth man of the year through 24mpg, Kyle Hunt, Billy White, or Kevin Loiselle down the stretch, their forwards routinely wore down defenses before striking with fresh legs. In the end, of the only 17 players that suited up for them this season, all but one averaged more than 12mpg. Not only does that show Hugo Lopez’s tactile coaching, but it also showcases how deep this club was well into May and June.
3. Bill Jones' Return
League officials had a soft spot for those who stuck around following the brawl that ended the 2014/15 season so abruptly. Cliff Clinkscales and Tony Bennett both made quick returns to their respective clubs despite how last season ended, while Tyrone Watson found a new home in Orangeville. However, no reinstatement was as significant as the one handed to Bill Jones. Following an appeal, league officials allowed Jones to return to the Windsor bench that was manned by his brother, Tony. While many disagreed with the decision, and the two-time champ’s appearances at games despite his one-year ban, league officials saw his admission of guilt as an important piece of the recovery process.
4. Niagara’s First Season
With another Ontario franchise on the horizon, there’s no doubt that league officials and those with the new Waterloo team will look towards the River Lions for inspiration. After launching the team last summer, this franchise has done everything right; impressive team media, fantastic community engagement, business sponsorships, impressive gate receipts, and marketable players have made Niagara a flagship NBLC market. Richard Petko and co. have been incredibly visible during the season, making even the casual fan feel their involvement. While second seasons are always a tough slog for new franchises, the River Lions are set to thrive in 2016/17.