August 15, 2014

Adanacs, Arrows Set for Minto Cup Series in BC

by Mike Buck | | Twitter

The end of summer for many means the replacing of lacrosse pads with football pads and worn out cleats with brand new hockey skates, but in Canada the end of summer brings one of the greatest lacrosse showcases of the year, the Minto Cup. Beginning August 16th in beautiful Langley, British Columbia, the Minto Cup will be fought out in the return of the beloved seven game series between the champions of the east, the Six Nations Arrows, and the champions of the west, the Coquitlam Adanacs.

The best talent in Canadian Jr lacrosse will be on display as players have their last chance to impress before the NLL draft, warm up before heading to American and Canadian universities, and most importantly fight for one of the toughest trophies to win in the lacrosse world's cabinet.

All games are to be played at the Langley Events Centre which happens to be a mere 22km drive from Coquitlam's home, the Poirer Sports Complex. It's also a 4,279km cross country adventure from Six Nations Iroquois Lacrosse Arena. On the surface, automatic home advantage must go to the Adanacs right? Not so fast. Anyone that has played a series versus the Arrows will testify to their fans' passion and willingness to travel. One only has to look back to 2007 in New Westminster and the support the Arrows received in their last Minto Cup appearance.

Breaking Down the Six Nations Arrows

Out for much of the summer, Johnny Powless is expected to be a difference maker for a Six Nations team that had an outstanding defense in its run to the east crown. (Larry Palumbo)

The Six Nations Arrows arrive after posting a convincing 16-4 regular season record, including a forfeit, despite the absence of superstar Johnny Powless. The Arrows used the momentum of their first place finish to post an even more impressive 11-2 record in the playoffs, including two sweeps, one of which came against arch-rival and 2013 Minto Cup champion Whitby Warriors.

With Powless out, the Arrows did not have a single player in the Top 10 in scoring for the Ontario Lacrosse Association, instead dominating the East the old fashioined way with defense and goaltending. The team sported a +100 differential in the season and +53 in the playoffs. Goaltender Doug Jamieson finished 1st in the league and shared the Robert Melville Award for lowest goals against teammate and No. 3 goaltender Don Alton. Alton went on to win the Robert Melville Award, Sanderson Memorial Award for most valuable goaltender, and was named a first team all-star. Along with these two standout goaltenders is the winner of the John "GUS" McCauley Memorial Award for best defender in the league Leo Stourus.

Coming into the Minto Cup, the Arrows bring with them the best goaltenders in the east, as well as a healthy and hungry Johnny Powless, coming off a 63 point playoffs performance, and a team looking to win their first Minto Cup in 7 years.

Breaking Down the Coquitlam Adanacs

Comfortable in the west, Adanacs are a team very familiar with the Minto Cup. Like the Arrows, they finished a strong regular season with a 17-3-1 record, with all three loses coming at the hands of rival New Westminster. The Adanacs took their second place position into the playoffs and were able to get revenge by topping the Salmonbellies to make the Western finals.

If the story lines were not similar enough, the Adanacs were without their own all-star in Wesley Berg, who was away helping Canada win the World Lacrosse Championship in Colorado. Upon Berg's return he wasted no time posting points with a strong 4.14 average in the playoffs and should be carrying plenty of confidence into the Minto Cup.

Where does the difference lie with these two teams? What do the Adanacs have to combat the award winning Arrows? The biggest difference is experience - the Adanacs return 12 players that were active on last season's team that made the Minto Cup round-robin along with newly acquired Eli McLaughlin from New Westminster who played in the Minto Cup final in 2013 and Wesley Berg who has both won and lost a Minto Cup final. Two strong offensive players with Minto Cup experience, 12 returning players from last seasons Minto Cup team, and goaltender Peter Dubenski, who has also played in a Minto Cup round-robin, should all help to make the Adanacs feel right at home 20 minutes away in a tournament that they are quite familiar with.

Star Power the Key

Every Minto Cup has star power and 2014 will not disappoint. Powless vs. Berg should keep the scorekeeper busy in a Minto Cup that has the feeling that it might need most, if not all, of the seven games to be decided.

When speaking about Junior lacrosse stars, Johnny Powless has to be on the top of the list, and to appreciate his talents, one has to take a step away from Junior lacrosse to where Powless plays for the Rochester Knighthawks. Rochester has been NLL champions three seasons in a row. How many seasons has Powless played for the Knighthawks? Three. In that span, Powless has tallied 144 career points, 29 in the playoffs. In 74 junior lacrosse games Powless has 361 points, and in 58 playoff games, 253. To add to his amazing credentials Powless has also helped the Six Nations Chiefs of the Major Lacrosse Series (a league dominated by NLL stars) win the Mann Cup.

So how does Coquitlam beat Johnny Powless and his Six Nations Arrows? The Adanacs will use their own star, a star that has done something Powless has never done, which is hoist the Minto Cup. While Powless was enjoying life playing indoor lacrosse, Berg was at the University of Denver playing field lacrosse. At Denver, Berg posted 167 points in 52 games and was a third team All-American and Tewaaraton Award nominee. Berg's high skill level on the field landed him a place on the Canadian National team, which took home gold at the FIL World Championships this summer, and now Berg carries the confidence gained as a World Champion along with his previous Minto Cup victory, into another Minto Cup that promises to be nothing but exciting.

Game Schedule

All games 8 p.m., Pacific Time at Langley Events Center in British Columbia

Game 1: Saturday, August 16th
Game 2: Sunday, August 17th 
Game 3: Tuesday, August 19th
Game 4: Wednesday, August 20th
Game 5 (If necessary): Thursday, August 21st
Game 6 (If necessary): Friday, August 22nd
Game 7 (If necessary): Saturday, August 23rd

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