Whitby Warriors win Minto Cup in overtime

The Ontario champion Whitby Warriors fought off a Game 4 scare from the New Westminster Salmonbellies and with a lucky bounce hoisted the Minto Cup with a 10-8 overtime win.

The eastern champions, runaway winners in games 1 and 3, had their hands full with a host team, that did not know the meaning of quit, before winning the best-of-five Minto Cup final three games to one at Queen's Park Arena on Sunday.

Trailing 5-3 heading into the final frame, New West took a 6-5 lead with three straight goals, including the go-ahead tally from Anthony Malcom off his wrong wing, in a two-minute span to open the period.

Whitby rallied to knot the contest on two later occasions in the period, but each time the Salmonbellies scored to take leads on goals by game MVP Jeremy Bosher and Quinn Smith.

A costly penalty on an iffy holding call late in the game allowed Whitby to tie up the game for a third time, with Minto MVP Dan Lintner notching the Warriors' fifth power play goal of  the game to draw even.

In OT, the outcome of the Canadian junior A national lacrosse final came down to the bounce of a ball and Whitby's Graeme Hossack who scooped up the loose ball at midfloor and went in alone on New West keeper Frank Scigliano to score the cup-winning tally.

"You know you're playing a good team when you know you can't afford to make a mistake," said Salmonbellie head coach Dan Perrault. "(Whitby) is a complete package. They move the ball so well and so quick. But (Alexis) Buque could have been the MVP."

The Burnaby NOW player of the Minto, Alexis Buque, was perfect when he had to be, stopping 51 shots in the final, including all nine in the 10-minute overtime period.

"We knew (New West) would come out hard, but today was just our day," said Buque, who led all keepers at the Minto with a .868 save percentage.

Lintner, who led Minto scoring with 16 goals and 31 points, garnered two goals and four assists in the championship final. Michael MacDonald, Reilly O'Connor and Ryan Keenan all chipped in with four-point efforts for the winners.

First-year junior Nathan Stewart led the junior 'Bellies with a goal and five helpers, while Smith, Bosher and Malcom had a pair of goals apiece for the Salmonbellies.

Frank Scigliano was solid in goal with 53 stops for New West.

"I wouldn't trade this team for the world," said an emotional Scigliano after the game. There is a lot of young talent, ... I see a real swing happening for this team. They're going to strive going forward because of this experience."

"No question," added junior Salmonbellie president Walt Weaver. "Tonight's game was just a solid effort. It's the team we've worked towards and they showed it today. It came down to a loose ball."

With 17 players due back next season, New West appears ready to assume the mantel of the team to beat in the B.C. Junior Lacrosse League in 2014.

But for a handful of graduating New West juniors, the end came far too quickly.

"It's tough knowing we were so close, just inches away from the cup. We battled hard. We can't look back and say we didn't battle hard," said New West assistant captain Daniel Perrault.

The Minto Cup was the Whitby Warriors sixth national title since 1984.

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