The town of Langley, British Columbia has been rumbling this past week as four of the top junior lacrosse teams in Canada duke it out for the Minto Cup National Championship title.
The championship features four Canadian teams: the Orangeville Northmen, Delta Islanders, Calgary Mounties, and the Coquitlam Adanacs — the winners of the Ontario, British Colombia, and Alberta provincial junior titles, as well as the runner-up of the hosting province respectively. With that into consideration, you know these games are all business because these kids are the best of the best in Canada’s hotbed lacrosse provinces. I mean, these kids ball.
The Minto has a history that transcends its modern day reputation. The cup was donated by Lord Minto who had migrated to Canada in 1884. He would eventually work with General Middleton during the Riel Rebellions before becoming the Governor General of Canada in 1904. As the years passed, Lord Minto grew attached to many Canadian customs including a love for lacrosse. Can you blame him?
At this time, a growing divide loomed over the formative hours of the Canadian dominion. A young Canadian identity was developing, but politicians struggled to mend the growing divide. What is something all Canadians share? Well, politicians saw sport as part of that Canadian identity and began to support the popular Canadian pastimes. Sports became a formative political force for national unification and in defining the Canuck we know today. Lord Grey brought Canada together with football; Lord Stanley brought Canada together with hockey; Lord Minto brought Canada together with lacrosse.
Tom Gifford standing on top of the
world with the Minto Cup, ca. 1901
The Cup was donated in 1901 and competed for by teams from Montreal to Victoria. It was originally awarded to the national champions of senior men’s lacrosse until 1909 when it’d then be awarded to the national champion of Canadian professional lacrosse. The Cup would eventually be lost in storage at 1924 until 1937 when it was re-discovered and transferred to the hands of the Canadian Lacrosse Association to become the title we know today. The Minto title has since gained a reputation for one of lacrosse’s highest accomplishments and has hosted many legends still tearing it up. It’s past contenders include Gary Gait (Rochester Knighthawks, Toronto Nationals), Brodie Merrill (Toronto Rock, Boston Cannons), Mark Matthews (Rush, Denver Outlaws), Cody Jamieson (Rochester Nighthawks, New York Lizards), Stephan Keogh (Rochester Nighthawks, Atlanta Blaze)… the list just keeps going. Are you convinced that these kids are just nasty yet?
With the round-robin now over, this battle of the North will culminate in a best-of-five clash between the Orangeville Northman and the Coquitlam Adanacs.
While this matchup was heavily anticipated (I mean, cats had it predicted), the Islanders and Mounties made some noise with impressive feats for both teams. The Islanders had claimed their franchise’s first B.C. Jr. A title in a decisive series against the Adanacs. Of similar significance, the Mounties raised many eyebrows during their run as they captured their first Ws in franchise history against a champion Ontario or B.C. team at Minto play. To put it simply, though the outcome was anticipated, round-robin play has been far from predictable. Every game was a cage-match. Both teams’ accomplishments had rattled the status-quo and are great testaments to the growing development of lacrosse throughout Canada.
The final series promises to present an all-out war on the floor. The Northmen and Adanacs have both had dominant campaigns in their recent history, and it would not be the first time their paths have crossed.
The Adanacs have had eight Minto appearances in franchise history, four of which have been in past five years. With that said, they’ve been left with just one Minto title; that was against the Northmen in 2010. With a deep and unsatisfied hunger for gold, you can expect the Adanacs to be coming out hot. The Adanacs' Minto run has been fuelled by their deep roster.
Colin Munro, #41, has tallied 2 Gs and 7 apples for 3 points per game (PPG) — a major threat as a feeder. John Hofseth, #16, has a more rounded presence this Minto campaign with 5 Gs and 4 apples for 4.5 PPG. Playing only 2 games in the Minto so far, Hofseth will be well rested and an absolute threat for the Northmen who are 4 games deep. Other key threats to keep an eye out for include Jean-Luc Chetner, #48 and Tyler Pace, #14. Derrick Downs, #27, an Ontario native, has had relatively a low profile so far in his 2 games for the Minto run. However, with several seasons of experience against the Northmen before his move to Coquitlam and an impressive 2016 regular season campaign, we think he can come out from under the radar with guns blazing. Can’t forget the starting netminder holding it down in the crease, Christian Del Bianco, #35, who is already playing with the NLL’s Calgary Roughnecks at the age of 19! He’s got a goal against average of 5.02 in the Minto. This guy is an absolute ninja between the pipes.
While these B.C. boys can do some damage, Orangeville is no team to be writing off. This team had just dethroned the back-to-back reigning Minto champions, the Six Nations Arrows, in a decisive sweep. That’s nothing to overlook. Beyond that, Orangeville has a had a history of success at nationals too. They’ve made 8 appearances, and brought The Cup back to Ontario 6 of those times – the last time being against the Adanacs in 2012.
The Northmen bring heavy arsenal. Adam Charalambides, #20, leads the tournament with 8 Gs and 7 apples at 5 PPG. Complimenting his firepower is Scott DelZotto with 5 Gs and 5 apples. Another player to keep an eye out for is Joel Tinney, #55, who’s got 4 Gs and 5 apples. Does that name sound familiar to you? Probably because he tore it up at Hopkins as the 2015 Big Ten Rookie of the Year. The kid is so slippery, you definitely want to look out for him dancing around some D. Other Boys making a noise are Gilroy, #81, and Bridle, #91. This squad is full of giants who make their big body presence known as they push cage. It’ll be interesting to see how Coquitlam responds to their fire power. Lastly, we cannot forget tendy, Nolan Clayton. The Ontario counterpart to Del Bianco has an undefeated record in the regular season. I guess that just makes sense when you’re practicing with these big guns.
All in all, this series will inevitably be an entertaining one as these two powerhouse teams compete to make history in this battle of the North.
You can Catch the action at online at TFSE TV for $8 a game:
Schedule is as follows:
(All games will be played inside the Langley Events Centre)
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