August 23, 2014

Six Nations Can End Minto Cup Drought Saturday

by Mike Buck |

Minto Cup 2014

Six Nations Wins 4-2

Game 1: Coquitlam 7, Six Nations 6
Game 2: Coquitlam 11, Six Nations 6
Game 3: Six Nations 19, Coquitlam 5
Game 4: Six Nations 10, Coquitlam 7
Game 5: Six Nations 12, Coquitlam 7
Game 6: Six Nations 14, Coquitlam 8
Photo Gallery: Arrows Take Title

With every game that passes during the 2014 Minto Cup, the Canadian Junior A box lacrosse championship, the drums of the Six Nations Arrows supporters continue to beat louder and louder.

The Arrows are causing a lot of noise with a three-game winning streak that has given them a 3-2 series lead over the Coquitlam Adanacs and the chance to clinch the Minto Cup on Saturday night. The Arrows scored the game's final six goals Thursday for a 12-7 victory over the Adanacs in Game 5.

The Minto Cup's return to a seven-game series has already proven worthy, with the passion and intensity that can only manifest from the repetition of challenging the same opponent night in and night out. That was most evident during Game 3, when emotions boiled and the teams combined for 236 penalty minutes. The Arrows won 19-5 and the momentum of the series shifted.

Game 3 also featured the unveiling of the Six Nations Arrows 25th-anniversary all black jersey. The jersey originally was introduced in 1989, just three years before the Arrows and Adanacs last met in the Minto Cup. The Arrows won that series in seven games.

Now with all the momentum leaning toward the Arrows and their heritage all-black jerseys, will the Adanacs use their experience to force a deciding Game 7, or will the Arrows end their seven-year Minto Cup drought Saturday night?

Coquitlam has its work cut out for it. Though the games have been close early, lengthy scoring runs have bailed Six Nations out of its penalty woes. The Adanacs must answer with scoring from their front end, namely star players Wesley Berg and Eli McLaughlin.

Everyone knows the righty Berg, who stars also in field lacrosse for the University of Denver and Team Canada, and the attention he demands on the floor.

But the newly acquired lefty McLaughlin is causing the Arrows plenty of problems himself. McLaughlin played for New Westminster in the Minto Cup last year, when the Salmonbellies fell to Whitby in four games. McLaughlin leads the Adanacs this series with 20 points (nine goals, 11 assists) and could be the deciding factor in the rest of the series.

The Adanacs are averaging 2.2 power-play goals per game in the series, slightly down from their 2.5 regular-season average. If Coquitlam can become more efficient in man-up situations and find different ways to break up Six Nations' ability to score in bunches, then on Sunday, fans will enjoy a Game 7 Minto Cup final.

Can Six Nations end it before then? The Arrows are playing with fire, tallying an incredible 211 penalty minutes in five games. That means they're averaging more than a period per game playing man-down. The longer this series plays out, the more fatigue will become a factor, particularly on the defensive end.

Six Nations racked up 459 penalty minutes during the regular season and 426 minutes during the playoffs. The Arrows have had success even with their penalty issues, largely thanks to Johnny Powless, the Minto Cup's top scorer with 22 points (five goals, 17 assists).

When Coquitlam's defense has zeroed in on Powless, Quinn Powless (17 points), Haodais Maracle (16), Josh Johnson (15) and most recently Brendan Bomberry (15) have provided depth to the Arrows attack.

Six Nations' all-black jerseys are sure to be on display Saturday night at Langley Events Centre, and the drums of traveling and newfound fans will fill the arena with relentless thumping in what should be a home game for Coquitlam. If the Arrows can stay out of the penalty box and ride their breadth of offensive talent, the Minto Cup will come back to Six Nations for the first time in seven years.

If the Adanacs can stop the bleeding during pressure situations and capitalize on their man-up chances, then they could sway the series back in their favor. Game 6 starts at 8 p.m. Pacific.

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