A's to take on Timbermen in BCJALL semifinal

Finish first with 17-4 record after winning final three regular-season games

While the assumption could be made it will be another easy road to BC Junior A Lacrosse League title for the Coquitlam Adanacs, that’s not the way they see it.

The Coquitlam Adanacs are the defending Canadian junior lacrosse champions and have been in the Minto Cup final for five consecutive seasons including also winning it all in 2016. 

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The regular season ended Sunday with, guess who, on top? The Adanacs of course at 17-4, well ahead of a pack tied for second, the Victoria Shamrocks, New Westminster Salmonbellies and Nanaimo Timbermen who all finished 14-7.

“After winning last year, we lost of few really key players … so people really weren’t sure where we were going to be,” said Adanacs head coach Pat Coyle. “If feels like we’re just starting to get healthy and have our full lineup ready, so I’m excited to get started.”

The A’s will take on the T-men in one best-of-seven semifinal while the ’Rocks and ’Bellies face off in the other. Game 1 between will be Sunday, 4 p.m. at the Poirier Sport and Leisure Complex. The winners will play a best-of-five final, although both will advance to the Minto Cup Aug. 15 to 26 at the Langley Events Centre.

Midway through the regular season, Coquitlam and Nanaimo played a three-game mini series in less than a week. In Nanaimo, the Timbermen toppled the Adanacs 8-7 on May 31 and 9-8 the next night before the A’s won 17-12 on June 5 in the only game played between them in Coquitlam. So they won’t be taking the T-men lightly. If they do they’ve only got themselves to blame, according to Coyle.

“They beat us two out of three times, so we’re definitely not taking anything for granted. We know we’re in for a tough battle,” said Coyle. “Part of it is they’re a good, young team and they work hard and seemed to have a knack for scoring. It would be easy to make excuses but the truth is they played really well in those games.

“We’ll be ready for them, and if we’re not shame on us.”

Dennon Armstrong was Coquitlam’s leading scorer with 36 goals and 78 points, tying him for seventh in the league. The Adanacs were bolstered by the mid-season addition of sniper Haiden Dickson from the Delta Islanders who notched 50 goals between the two teams, second most in the BCJALL.

“It’s nice to have a weapon like that. We do really try to score by committee on our offence and getting goals in transition,” said Coyle.

Nanaimo, however, has three players who matched or bettered Armstrong’s point-output in Thomas Vaesen (53-47=100), Ryan Sheridan (47-52=99) and Colton Lidstone (21-57=78). Vaesen led the league in goals and was fourth in points.

The most notable graduation, by far, from last season’s championship team was goaltender Christian Del Bianco who recently backstopped the Calgary Roughnecks to a National Lacrosse League title.

But Coyle feels Nate Faccin has done an excellent job in filling Del Bianco’s big shoes posting 11 wins, a 7.15 goals-against average and an 84.9 save percentage. Backup Cam MacLeod also won all six of his games with a 4.29 GAA and and stopping 88.8% of the shots he faced.

After losing in Victoria (June 23) and Langley (June 27), the Adanacs ended the season on a three-game win streak concluding with a 10-5 home-floor victory, in which they scored the game’s final five goals, over the Salmonbellies on Friday.

Dickson sniped three goals and added three assists while Armstrong had a goal and four assists. Philip Buque and Ethan Ticehurst had two goals each with Dawson Rodin and Reid Bowering getting the others.

• The rest of the series schedule is:

Game 2: Wednesday, July 17, 6:15 p.m., Porier

Game 3: Saturday, July 20, 5 p.m., Nanaimo

Game 4: Sunday, July 21, 2 p.m., Nanaimo

Game 5: Friday, July 26, noon, Poirier*

Game 6: Saturday, July 27, noon, Nanaimo*

Game 7: Sunday, July 28, noon, Poirier*

*if necessary

• The Port Coquitlam Saints ended their BCJALL season on a winning note by downing the Victoria Shamrocks 13-11 Sunday.

Junior B call-up Austin Wahl got the winner on a two-man advantage with 1:52 left in the third period with Garrett Winter icing it with another power play marker with 49 seconds remaining. It was Wahl’s second goal of the game to go along with six assists. Winter had three goals and three assists. Jacob Dunbar also scored a hat trick while also adding four helpers.

The victory was just the fourth for PoCo to go with 17 losses, the last of which came Saturday when the Saints lost 14-3 to the Shamrocks in Victoria, leaving them out of the playoff picture in seventh place in the eight-team league.

ggranger@tricitynews.com

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