The right side of the Coquitlam offence has been highly praised—with good reason—but last night their lefties rose to the challenge and lifted the Adanacs to a 15-11 win over the Whitby Warriors and a berth in the 2012 Minto Cup finals, where they will face the Orangeville Northmen in a best-of-three series starting Friday night. Lefties Reid Rheinholdt and Vinny Ricci combined for five goals and seven assists as the Adanacs were able to avenge a loss to the Warriors in last year’s Minto finals.
Whitby was taking great care to contain Coquitlam’s big four righties of Ben McIntosh, Matthew Dinsdale, Wesley Berg and Robert Church. “Even on the power play, they were stacking the other side,” Rheinholdt said. “That left Vinny and me to get it done and we were able to do some good things.”
Rheinholdt proved himself a master of understatement with that sentence. Rheinholdt, who scored 84 points in the regular season and added 31 in eight playoffs games, was brilliant last night. He scored twice and set up five goals by drawing defensive pressure then hitting the open man with excellent passes. Ricci had a hat trick and added a pair of assists.
“All year long people have been overlooking our left side,” said Adanacs coach Neil Dinsdale, Matthew’s father. It was impossible to overlook them last night. The righties did their part, too, of course, scoring 20 points between the four of them. Berg was the leading sniper with four goals and added two assists.
Whitby led 4-2 after a fast-paced first period thanks to a pair of goals by Ryan Serville. Coquitlam got the first three goals of the second to take the lead but Dan Lintner—with one of four goals on the evening—tied it up at five. Then Coquitlam got the Warriors back on their heels and reeling with a string of six straight goals in 5:50 that was the difference in the game. It all started when Graeme Hossack took a high-sticking major for letting his stick get up under the chin of an Adanacs forward when he slid to help out on a cutter.
Rheinholdt and Ricci connected on the ensuing power play then Dinsdale potted a pair. The fifth goal never actually entered the net. McIntosh took a pass right on top of the crease and whipped a quick shot on Lukas Coote, who had replaced Alexis Buque in the Whitby goal. It was a bang-bang play that was signalled a goal by refereen Nick Thomas. With the benefit of replay it became clear that the ball went under Coote’s right arm, hit his side and bounced clear of the net.
There was no question about the goal that came nine seconds later, though. Jeff Cornwall scooped up the ball off the faceoff and streaked in on a two-on-one. He buried it near side to complete the six-goal run.
Cornwall also made the play of the game on defence. After losing the ball to a Whitby double team in the corner he cut behind goalie Davide DiRuscio as Sheldon Burns faked the goalie out and deposited what looked like a sure goal behind him. Burns didn’t, however, beat Cornwall. The defender dove across the crease and blocked the ball with his ribs to stun Burns and everyone else in the building.
Whitby scored three times in the final three minutes of the period and got the first goal of the third to pull within two but were never able to get closer than that. Both teams had remarkable success on the power play. Coquitlam was 4-for-5 and Whitby 5-for-7.
Whitby coach Derek Keenan noted the obvious difference was the second-period run. “We had a really bad spell in the second period,” he said. “It started with the 5-minute. Not only did they get two on it but our best defensive player is in the box for five minutes. But, you know what, we needed to respond there and we stood around. We’ve been a pretty good defensive team all year and for whatever reason tonight we didn’t have it. And it was our key guys. It wasn’t young guys, it was key guys that we use in all those situations.”
Keenan pointed out that the Warriors have a lot of graduating players but “a lot of good young players, too. A lot of good players in our feeder system. We’ll be back next year,” he said.
For this year, though, the Minto Cup comes down to a battle between the teams that won the title from 2008-2010. Orangeville and Coquitlam meet in a best-of-three starting Friday night at 8 pm. All three games can be viewed live on line via webstreaming.
Coqiuitlam 15, Whitby 11 (box score)
Finals schedule: Orangeville vs Coquitlam
Game 1, Friday 8pm
Game 2, Saturday 8pm
Game 3, Sunday 8pm (if necessary)
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