In the end, there was simply no denying the Orangeville Northmen. The Hornheads rode outstanding goaltending from tournament MVP Dillon Ward and a relentless team effort to a 9-4 win over the Coquitlam Adanacs and the team’s third Minto Cup championship in five years. The Northmen trailed 2-1 after 20 minutes but the pressure they applied at both ends of the floor built and built till the final buzzer, when sticks and gloves flew high towards the ceiling of Whitby’s Iroquois Park Sports Centre.
With 13 players graduating from the junior ranks, this season will mark the passing on from one era of Northmen lacrosse. Captain Jeremy Noble (winner of the Jim Bishop Award for leadership, sportsmanship and outstanding play) epitomized the drive and desire of the team, playing the final two games with a torn hamstring and scoring four points in the clinching game.
Coquitlam, who came out determined to show they were better than the 19-7 beating they suffered in Game 1 of the best-of-three finals suggested, had a great opening period. Reid Reinholdt—named the Adanacs player of the game—and Wesley Berg, who would lead the tournament in scoring with 12 goals and 12 assists, connected for their 2-1 lead. It looked like the Adanacs may just be able to even the finals at a game apiece when that pair assisted on Ben McIntosh’s goal just 1:11 into the second.
But Ward didn’t allow the BC champs another goal for the next 23 minutes, during which time the Northmen struck for seven. Berg’s extra-man tally pulled Coquitlam within four at 8-4 at 3:53 of the third to give them some hope. That was the end of the scoring, though, until Billy Hostrawser bounced an empty-netter in at 16:28 to effectively seal the deal.
The Adanacs put up a valiant struggle, but it was clear the Northmen were the better team. Orangeville poured 66 shots onto the Coquitlam goal while only allowing 34 themselves. Noble, generally extremely diplomatic in his answers, finally said what he and his teammates had believed but felt like no one else thought. “We’re the best team in Canada,” he repeated a few times after the game.
Hayden Smith, one of the anchors of a resolute Northmen defence, was equally direct. “We wanted to show that we’re the best. We basically dominated the tournament. I don’t even have many words to say right now. Minto Cup champions. It’s just the best feeling.”
Brandon Benn and Rob Hellyer each scored twice for Orangeville. Noble and Cody McMahon each had a goal and three assists. Berg scored twice and had one assist for Coquitlam; McIntosh and Rheinholdt each chipped in with a goal and two helpers.
After Friday night’s fractious Game 1, which saw repeated scuffles in the third period when the result was long since beyond doubt, last night was an intense and physical but fairly well-mannered affair. There were no penalties in the first 15 minutes, until Reinholdt ran over Ward and set off a melee. The Northmen wound up going 3 for 5 on the power play while the Adanacs were 1 for 4.
In the end, Northmen Nation had another championship to celebrate. An hour after the final buzzer, Dustin Caravello strolled alone up the passage to the Orangeville bench. He was still in full uniform, calmly sipping a cold drink and looking around at the darkening, empty arena. He and his teammates were the lords of all they surveyed. For another night, as on so many nights over the last half decade, it was good to be a Northman.
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