The fabulous Gary and Paul Gait, who would eventually appear in the pages of Sports Illustrated for revolutionizing lacrosse, led the last Island team to win the Minto Cup national Junior ‘A’ championship in 1988.
That is the more than three-decade drought the current Victoria Junior Shamrocks will be looking to end in the 2019 Minto Cup tournament, Aug. 16-26 at the Langley Events Centre. Only three Victoria teams have lifted Canadian junior lacrosse’s holy grail – the Gaits and Esquimalt Legion in 1988, Kevin Alexander and Victoria McDonald’s in 1976 and Bill Munroe and the Junior Shamrocks in 1962.
Victoria will be playing in the Minto Cup for the first time since 2008, when Orangeville, Ont., defeated the Junior Shamrocks in the final.
“The Minto Cup is obviously every junior lacrosse team’s goal, and it’s hard work and dedication that got us there,” said Junior Shamrocks head coach Terry Dennett.
“It’s an all-round team with everybody doing whatever it takes. We have a player like Caleb Kueber, who went from setting up the power play to playing defence, because that’s what was needed. These guys have high lacrosse IQs.”
B.C. gets two Minto Cup berths because the province is hosting the tournament this year.
The Junior Shamrocks and Coqutilam Junior Adanacs got those spots because of their best-of-seven B.C. playoff semifinal victories in the eight-team provincial Junior ‘A’ league. The Junior Shamrocks defeated the New Westminster Junior Salmonbelles in seven games and Junior Adanacs got past the Nanaimo Junior Timbermen in six games.
The Junior Shamrocks and Junior Adanacs still have to play a largely meaningless best-of-three B.C. championship series, which began Saturday in Coquitlam with the A’s winning 15-5.
The second game is today at 3 p.m. in The Q Centre. A deciding game, if required, will be Friday in Coquitlam.
Don’t tell these teams, however, the series is moot.
“Every time these players put on their helmets, they are competitive by nature,” Dennett said.
“They are playing for a B.C. championship.”
Teioshontathe Mccomber was outstanding for Victoria in the semifinal series against New Westminster, with 14 goals and 31 points in just seven games, while Zach Manns added 26 points and Patrick Dodds 20.
Ben Preston is described by Dennett as “our silent leader.” Cam Dunkerley has been solid in goal.
The Junior Shamrocks and Junior Adanacs will be joined by the winners of the Alberta and Ontario junior leagues in the Minto Cup. Going into Saturday night action, Burlington and Orangeville were tied 1-1 in the Ontario final and the Calgary Mountaineers and Okotoks Raiders 2-2 in the Alberta final.