BCJALL final a good prep for Minto: Coyle

Thirty-six hours after celebrating a second consecutive BC Junior A Lacrosse League championship , Coquitlam Adanacs’ coach Pat Coyle was “up to his elbows” in kitchen grease.

One job is done, another waits to be tackled. 

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Just like the lacrosse team he’s helmed since 2015. With another league championship trophy to display in the lobby at the Poirier Sports and Leisure Centre, the Adanacs now embark on winning another, the Minto Cup national championship.

It’s a familiar narrative for the Adanacs; this will be their 10th straight trip to the Minto. But it’s one Coyle’s careful not to let his charges take for granted.

That sense of entitlement may have afflicted his players after an easy win in the first game of their best-of-seven final against the Salmonbellies. So much so, New West won the next two games on the Adanacs’ home floor.

“We went out there and killed them in the first game and we thought it was going to be easy,” said Coyle, who earns his living installing fire protection systems in places like restaurant kitchens. “If we think we can just show up and win, we’re sadly mistaken.”

Having already matched their total number of losses the team suffered in the regular season, the Adanacs turned the series around with a 12-5 win over the Salmonbellies in Game Four and then followed that up with two more wins, including Sunday’s series’ clincher, 11-6 at New Westminster’s Queen’s Park Arena.

Coyle said that hiccup of adversity may help his team as they prepare for the national championship, which begins in Calgary on Aug. 16.

“Being down two to one and having some real doubts go through our heads, and then come out the other side of that is huge,” he said. “We learned way more winning 4-2 than had we won 4-0.”

Coyle said the late-season addition of experienced players like Dylan Foulds, Graydon Bradley, Adam Fulton, Tyson Kirkness, as well as Ryland Rees had a huge impact on the Adanacs’ championship run. Foulds, in fact, was the second-leading scorer in the playoffs and had the most assists — 20.

Coyle said their composure was a steadying influence in the team’s dressing room and on the floor when players started gripping their sticks tighter after falling behind the ‘Bellies earlier in the series.

“They just made the talent level on our team so much better,” Coyle said. “As the series went on, those guys became more comfortable with us and us with them.”

Coyle expects that comfort level will only increase as the team practices four times before leaving next Tuesday for Alberta, where they’ll face Okotoks Raiders and Calgary Mountaineers from the host Rocky Mountain Junior A league and the winner of the Ontario final between the Brampton Excelsiors and the Orangeville Northmen. The Excelsiors lead that series three games to one with the fifth game scheduled for tonight.

Coyle said the format of the Minto Cup tournament, in which the four qualifiers play each other in an elimination format to determine the two teams that will battle for the trophy in a best-of-five, leaves little margin for a team to find its groove.

“You’re sort of going in blind,” he said. “All you can do is play the best lacrosse you can. The team that makes the fewest mistakes will be the team that wins.”

The Adanacs hope their mistakes are behind them.

“We’re heading in the right direction,” Coyle said. “But it’s a fragile thing.”

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