The Coquitlam Adanacs are adding a second leg of travel on their quest for a Minto Cup championship after sweeping Alberta’s Okotoks Raiders in three games to win the Western Canadian Finals on Saturday night.
After two close games in which both teams felt each other out and with just three goals separating them through game two, Coquitlam put on a dominant display of defence and goaltending en route to a 13-3 game three win. They now wait to see who their Ontario opponent is—the Six Nations Arrows currently lead the Peterborough Lakers 2-1 in their best-of-seven Ontario Junior A final.
In game one, Okotoks fought back from 6-4 deficit to tie the game in the third period before Coquitlam won on Ontario import Chris Cloutier’s game winner with 7:40 left in the third period. Cloutier was his dominant self in game one, scoring six goals and adding an assist while Tyler Pace added a goal and four assists. Drake Smith and Dylan Kinnear both potted a pair of goals for the Raiders while the Getz brothers, Jordan and Travis, had a combined five assists.
Pace lived up to his surname in game two, pacing all scorers with seven points behind six assists, three to another Ontario product, Andy Campbell. Brett McIntyre showed up on the statsheet after a pedestrian game one, scoring a hat-trick and two assists. After his goal midway through the third to bring the game within two goals, the A’s shut things down on the backend to preserve the 9-7 win.
It seemed like the Raiders ran out of gas in the third game, which shouldn’t surprise many after standing toe-to-toe with arguably the best Junior A team in Canada two days in a row. That might be the killer for Alberta teams who don’t see high level competition consistently and especially not three days in a row.
Coquitlam was up 7-2 after two periods despite the shots staying relatively even. But like we have seen so many times before, the Adanacs depth and overall skill level won them the game in the third period, getting contributions in all three facets of the game. A power play tally at 11:19 put the game out of reach for Okotoks.
The Battle of the Del Bianco’s was hotly contested, with Giulio being a deadline pick-up for Okotoks and Christian backstopping both the Intermediate and Junior A’s through much of the season. Despite Giulio splitting time with Jordan Kanscal in game two, he put in a valiant effort against his brother. For being an Intermediate aged player, though, it’s exciting to see a goaltending prospect play with the confidence and technical acuity that Christian plays with. Coquitlam has a good one in the system and potentially the best Coquitlam-based goalie prospect since Frank Scigliano.
This is the Adanacs’ best shot at winning since their first and only Minto, last won in 2010 with a stacked team that featured players like Robert Church, Matt Beers, the Cornwall brothers and Curt Malawsky behind the bench. They have the skill, depth, character and sacrifice it takes to be the best in Canada.
For Alberta, this was the year one of their team’s finally broke through to give BC a serious series. For argument’s sake, would Okotoks beat Delta in a seven-game series? I think they could, or give the Islanders a serious run for their money. It’s good to see Alberta finally having teams compete, but now the aim should be for not just one team to come out every year and challenge, but for two or three teams to make serious runs at competing for the Western Canadians.
In the future, don’t be surprised to see more BC imports playing bigger roles for Alberta’s clubs, as well.
At the end of the day, it won’t matter where Coquitlam travels; a Minto Cup championship has always been the final destination.