Langley Thunder repeat as WLA champions, beat Coquitlam to advance to Mann Cup

Back-to-back WLA champions, the Langley Thunder will represent the West in the 2012 Mann Cup. (Tammy Castor)
Back-to-back WLA champions, the Langley Thunder will represent the West in the 2012 Mann Cup. (Tammy Castor)

For the second straight season, the Langley Thunder are the Western Lacrosse Association Champions as they defeated the Coqtuitlam Adanacs 9-5 in game 6 to win the series 4-2. The drama from game five seemed to be in the past as both teams showed up with the sole purpose of leaving the Palace on Porier with a W. However the drama wasn’t all gone as before the game both rosters took a strange twist. When the game rosters were handed in, there was one noticable omission from the Adanacs starting line-up. Dane Dobbie,  the heart and soul of the Adanacs team, was scratched and would be unavailable for coach Bob Salt for the biggest game of the year. But it didn’t end there. Moments before the Thunder were announced, GM Gerry Van Beek came up to the press box to let the official scorers know that Athan Iannucci was a late game time scratch and wouldn’t be playing. Before the opening whistle, two of the game’s best players found themselves not able to help their team and were left to join the 1,500 fans in attendance watching from the stands.

With the win, the Thunder advance to their second ever Mann Cup but after facing a very talented Brampton Excelsiors squad in 2011, they will take on one of the best teams ever compiled in the Peterborough Lakers. Turn the page and see how the game unfolded as we are now down to the final two teams left in Sr A lacrosse. The Mann Cup beings September 7th from the Memorial Centre in Peterborough, Ontario.

In what was another fantastic back and forth low scoring game, the Thunder were able to out last and finally put away a very stingy Adanacs squad that never gave up.  With out their leading scorer, the A’s seemed to be outmatched from the get go but all year, they have defied the odds and tonight would be no different.

“What else can I say about this locker room,” said A’s captain Bruce Murray, who was extremely emotional after the game. “People doubted us all year long and we always stuck together. Tonight was no different. I’m proud of every one of these guys.”

Brett Hickey, who was inserted into the game at the last minute for Iannucci, rewarded his coach with a goal just 1:12 into the period and go the ball rolling. That’s been the ongoing story for the Thunder who have constantly rotated players in and out of the line-up; one of their biggest assests, depth, once again played a huge part in their success.

As the Thunder seemed to control the game through most of the opening twenty minutes, it was another rookie, Mark Negrin, who stepped up huge in the absence of Dobbie, finaly got the home squad on the board with under four minutes to play in the period.

HC Rod Jensen knew his team was still in control of the series, hoped his team’s play in game 5 was a one off. “I was happy with our play to start the game, we knew it was going to be another tight one and we responded well.” Playing with confidence, the Thunder started to get their swagger back as the second period saw them outscore the Adanacs five to three, largely in part to a four goal in the middle of the second.

WLA play-off MVP Lewis Ratcliff, who finished the post-season with 49 points averaging 4.9 a game, had five points in game six, scored the game winner with seven minutes left in the middle period and would add one more in the third. “I want the ball in my stick as often as I can but working with Jacko (Shayne Jackson), Alex (Turner), Tor (Reinholdt) and (Kyle) McEwen, makes things a lot easier.”

Andrew McBride, who joined the Adanacs late in the season, has played with some of the best players in the world, was quick to give credit where credit was due. “In my opinion he’s (Ratclff) the best pure goal scorer in the game.” All series long, McBride hounded Ratcliff all over the floor but there was only so much he and the rest of the A’s defence could do.

As the third period would down, Coquitlam threw everything they could at Brodie MacDonald but it wasn’t too be on this night. “We just didn’t have it,” commented HC Bob Salt, who has been a huge part of the Adanacs resurgence over the past two years. “We’ve got fanatstic leadership group full of very passionate veterans. Not having the little guy (Dobbie) really hurt us but we battled till the very end.”

So as the Thunder celebrate their most recent triump, they realize the battle is far from over. Winning a Mann Cup at home is a very daunting task but winning on the road is a hundred times more challenging. The champs will have a couple more practices before heading east on Wednesday to get ready for the Lakers.

“We’re going to have to bring our ‘A-game’ every night against those guys. It’s not going to be easy,” Ratcliff added as he get’s set to play in his fifth Mann Cup.  ”I’ve been to four Mann Cups and lost two of them on the road. It’s whole different game back there.”

Jensen, put things a little more bluntly, “We’re going need a miracle. That’s no disrespect to any of the guys on our team but they’re just an unbelievably talented team and it’s going to be challenge.”

The Mann Cup kicks off next Friday, September 7th  in Peterborough- Sept. 7th, 9th, 10th, 12th, 14th, 15th, 16th. All games will be made available on PPV webcast courtesty of JVI Productions – http://www.webcast-sports.com.

Teddy Jenner is one the leading sources for lacrosse information. He comes by his love of lax honestly with a lifetime of experience, two Mann Cup championships and six years of play in the NLL. Email him at ted.jenner@ilindoor.com, follow him on Twitter @OffTheCrosseBar or catch him on Team 1410 radio in Vancouver, B.C., as the host and producer of the Off the Crosse-Bar Radio Show In 2012, he was awarded the BCLA's Norm Wright Merit Award- handed out to a member of the media deemed to have have contributed to the promotion of lacrosse.

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