The four best Junior A box lacrosse teams in the country are set to kick-off the 2018 Minto Cup national championship tomorrow in Calgary, Alberta. It will mark the first time since 2011 that this prestigious event will be hosted in Alberta, with the action taking place at the Max Bell Arena from August 16-26.
This year’s event, which is being jointly organized by Rocky Mountain Junior A Lacrosse League rivals the Calgary Mountaineers and Okotoks Raiders, will see those two league finalists take on the Coquitlam Adanacs, British Columbia Junior A Lacrosse League (BCJALL) champions, and the Brampton Excelsiors, winners of the Ontario Junior A Lacrosse League (OJALL) title.
The teams will compete for the historic Minto Cup trophy, which was first awarded in 1901 and was officially designated as the Junior ‘A’ lacrosse championship of Canada in 1937.
While the tournament has traditionally been dominated by teams from Ontario and British Columbia, the competitive gap is narrowing and Alberta-based teams have also shown that they can compete on the national stage, which should help make the 2018 edition of the Minto Cup very competitive.
As the host league, the RMJALL received two berths in the tournament, which were awarded to the league champion and runner-up. Okotoks captured the RMJALL championship after a grueling 4-3 series win over their rivals from Calgary.
The Mounties, who finished the regular season with a 10-6 record, earned a 4-2 series win over the Saskatchewan SWAT to claim their spot in the league final, whereas the Raiders, who finished atop the regular season standings with a 13-3 record, advanced following a four-game sweep of the Edmonton Blues.
Coquitlam, winners of the 2016 Minto Cup, ended their regular season with an impressive 18-2-1 record and captured their league championship series 4-2 over the New Westminster Salmonbellies. They advanced to the championship series following a three-game sweep of the Victoria Shamrocks.
As perennial contenders, the Adanacs will look to re-claim the national title following five losses in the Minto Cup championship series over the last seven years.
Brampton, host of last year’s Minto Cup, have not competed for the national crown since 2009. They won three straight titles from 1957-59.
The Excelsiors finished second in the OJALL regular season with a 14-6 record. Their playoffs journey began with a 3-2 series win over the Mimico Mountaineers, followed by a three-game sweep of the Toronto Beaches. They advanced to the Minto Cup with a 4-1 series win over the Orangeville Northmen.
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