In these complex times of postponed sports, fans have been taking to social media with their favourite games and memories. The lacrosse world is no different. A quick scroll through any fan’s timeline will show pictures from player’s youth, coaching, throwback games and, yes, father/daughter TikTok dance battles. It is with all this in mind we ask your indulgence as we personally look back on some of our favourite games we’ve had the pleasure to be a part of as either reporter, writer, fan, commentator or broadcaster. It is the hope this unique look back will provide a new perspective while giving readers some form of comfort in these different times.
Forgive me, lacrosse fans, for I have sinned.
Until 2012, I had no idea what the Minto Cup was. I never played Junior lacrosse, and I was only aware of the Toronto Rock and Sr. A Brampton Excelsiors teams, and those of their opponents.
In my first year of broadcasting lacrosse, all of it at the senior level, the company I worked for was awarded the web-streaming contract for the Minto Cup in Whitby.
Homework assignment #1: What is the Minto Cup?
Answer: one of the most storied Championships of any sport in Canada, awarded to the country’s top Junior A team. Idiot! I also learned we would be featuring teams called the Orangeville Northmen (who won the Ontario title), the Calgary Mountaineers (winners in Alberta), the Coquitlam Adanacs (the winners in British Columbia [shocking, I know]) and the defending champion Whitby Warriors (awarded the position as hosts).
Homework assignment #2: How to work a replay machine
My assigned job was replay operator and director. In truth, I had worked the Major Series Lacrosse playoffs prior to the Minto Cup as a replay operator so I had a general idea what I was doing. However, this tournament was a huge contract for a basically brand new company which had set a fairly high standard for what a sports web stream could look like. The nerves were high for game one as I didn’t want to be the one to bring the quality down.
I quickly learned, this Minto Cup thing was pretty epic. The lacrosse was incredible. The fans were loud. It was one of the best lacrosse atmospheres of which I’d been a part. I started to realize how big the event was when some of the sports heavy hitters stopped by our booth for interviews as they were there scouting – like Curt Malawsky or Terry Sanderson – or just because they had to be there to take it in – such as NHL Alumni Adam Foote. At the end of a hectic and tiring week, and an Orangeville championship, we ‘tore down,’ and took a few days off before preparing for the Mann Cup in Peterborough.
I’ve recently thought back to that Minto Cup experience. I’ve been lucky now to be a part of the broadcast crew in various capacities for the 2012, 2015 and 2017 Minto Cups. The 2012 tournament was my first, and you know what they say – you never forget your first. It was recently a clip posted to Twitter of a Dillon Ward save that caused me to think back to that week in August, 2012. An “I remember him when” type moment.
Ward was lights out. He allowed only 20 goals through five games (four and a half technically as Michael Fournier played the back half of a 15-1 defeat of Calgary, stopping all but one of 17 shots). Ward’s staggering 4.28 GAA and .888 save percentage earned him tournament MVP, and eventually the third overall selection in the 2013 NLL Draft. That’s when I began realizing there were a lot of “I remember him when” players from that 2012 Minto.
For example, Ward’s teammate Mitch Jones, who did not play in the Calgary game, put up 21 points in his four games (11 goals). That tied him for third in tournament scoring with Coquitlam’s Robert Church who played six games. Also from the Adanacs, Wes Berg led all tournament scorers with 24 points in six games, followed by teammate Ben McIntosh with 22.
The names kept coming. The Orangeville team also included current NLL players Rob Hellyer, Jason and Jeremy Noble, Bill Hostrawser, Ian MacKay, Brad Kri and Brad Gillies, and they were led by current Toronto Rock head coach Matt Sawyer. Additionally, Cody and Jamie McMahon, Blair Goss, AJ Masson, Jordan Critch, Hayden Smith and Austin Divitcos were drafted into the NLL from this winning team. Thirteen players graduated from the 2012 Orangeville Northmen.
In addition to the three Adanacs listed above, they boasted NLLers Challen Rogers, Jeff Cornwall (who I had the pleasure of replaying make a head first dive to swat away a ball trickling towards his goal line), Reid Reinholdt, Matthew Dinsdale, Jean-Luc Chetner and Mike Messenger as well as Tyler Garrison, Kevin Neufeld and Davide DiRuscio who were either drafted to or saw time in the NLL.
The Adanacs played in the final series with the Northmen, but what makes this Minto Cup roster so special is the fact the third place Whitby Warriors also graduated some incredible talents. They were led in goal by Alex Buque and led in scoring by Dan Lintner. The hosts also boasted Reilly O’Connor, Curtis Knight, Mitch Wilde, Sheldon Burns, Chad Tutton, Mark Cockerton, Graeme and Matt Hossack and Ryan Keenan. They were coached by Derek Keenan and also featured Jordan Houtby, Brodie Tutton, Chris Attwood and Mike Lum-Walker who all were either drafted to, or saw time in the NLL.
The Calgary Mountaineers struggled in this trip to Ontario. Over three games they scored only six goals, surrendering 38. Two of those goals were scored by Tyler Melnyk, formerly of the Edmonton Rush. Another player scoring for Calgary was a kid named Dan Taylor. Of course, Calgary Roughnecks fans now know that name as the player who had 23 goals last year, and 14 before play was halted this season. Mountaineers’ captain Jordan Pridham was selected by Calgary in the 2012 draft, while netminder Jordan Kanscal was drafted to the Roughnecks in 2015, and Jake Archdekin to the same in 2016.
Yes, it’s true, NLL scouts tend to come out for the Minto Cup. And, yes, these teams did have personal connections between coaches or assistants close to NLL teams. Looking back at this Minto there was star power. Looking back at most Minto Cup rosters (especially of winning teams – check out 10 years ago, for example, the 2010 Minto) you’ll find star power. However, 2012 me didn’t know that. 2020 me does know that, and 2020 me also knows the Minto Cup is a big deal.
I’ve made my penance, and I ask your forgiveness for my previous ignorance.
Revisit the final game from the 2012 Minto Cup here.