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Here is a snippet of one of the Miners Lacrosse Club's proudest achievements...
"It’s official: The St. Albert Miners are a Senior Lacrosse Dynasty."
Sunday’s coronation ceremony for the Miners at Frank Crane Arena in Nanaimo, B.C., marked the grand entrance into Canadian lacrosse royalty as the three-peat winners of the Presidents’ Cup championship.
“I’m not going to say it but if someone says it and it’s published then I will not disagree,” said captain Jordan Cornfield of the dynasty label while still vibrating over the historic accomplishment during Monday’s phone interview from the Harbour City.
The Miners are in select company with the 1976-78 Vernon Tigers and 1986-88 Fergus (Ont.) Thistles as winners of three consecutive Presidents' Cup, the longest championship streak in the tournament’s 55-year history.
“It hasn’t been done in the modern day which is really something special for us,” Cornfield said. “We know a lot of teams that have had success like this have been inducted into the Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame which is pretty exciting for us,” Cornfield said.
The championship era of the Miners – 87-4-2 overall after losing the 2015 Rocky Mountain Lacrosse League provincial final – included the first Presidents’ Cup for an Alberta team since the 2007 Sherwood Park Outlaws as the host team at the 2016 nationals in Leduc, the first team to repeat since the 2011-12 St. Regis Braves of the Three Nations Senior Lacrosse League as last year’s champion at Iroquois Lacrosse Arena on the Six Nations of the Grand River in Ontario, and the 10-8 overtime thriller against the host Nanaimo Timbermen and West Coast Lacrosse League champions in Sunday’s final.
“This year is definitely the sweetest one because of a number of reasons,” said Cornfield, who hoisted the Presidents’ Cup in celebration in the last senior B game of his career.
“It’s only been done twice before and it hasn’t been done in the last 30 years,” he added. “This also felt like it was the hardest tournament to win out of all of them. Obviously with us going into overtime in the final and all the highs and lows of that game, when we won in overtime it was amazing.
“Everyone was excited. We were on the edge of our seats the whole game. The nerves were going and when we finally won it was just relief especially after playing in a tournament of nine games in eight days. It’s pretty gruelling.”
The Miners finished 8-1 at the eight-team nationals after going 22-1-1 in the RMLL regular season and playoffs.
Last year’s Miners also posted an 8-1 mark at nationals while going 32-2 overall and the previous year’s record was 5-0 at nationals and 25-0-1 overall.
“With eight teams this year (instead of nine) it was a lot more of an even playing field. The bottom teams weren’t as bad as the bottom teams last year,” Cornfield said. “Every single game we played was tough. The scores didn’t show that but it was a grind.”
In the final, the Miners dug deep after leading 3-2 at the end of the first period with a frantic push to trail by one at 7-6 after 40 minutes and Mike Triolo’s hat-trick goal in the third knotted the score at eight.
“At one point in the second period we were down 7-4. We were up 4-3 and then they went on a four-goal run to get up 7-4, but our coaching staff called a time out and we kind of reset from there. There was about five minutes left in the period and our goal was just to get one at that point so we ended up getting two. Keegan (Bal) got our fifth goal and then Mike got our sixth,” Cornfield said. “Going into the third period with a 7-6 deficit we felt pretty good about where we were at. We told the defence just to give us the opportunity to score the first one and we knew if we did that then the game would go our way.
“We’ve been there before, we’ve been down, so I wouldn’t say there were doubts but definitely some nerves. We just knew if we stayed the course and kept playing our systems the goals would come our way and we started dropping the ball into the net.”
Triolo’s fourth goal with about three minutes remaining in overtime was the winner and Graedon Cornfield, Jordan’s younger brother, netted the insurance marker with 1:20 to play.
Aaron Bold, the tournament MVP, pulled off a heart-stopping save for the Miners on a breakaway with 1:42 left.
“I can’t say enough about him. Absolutely phenomenal. He stood on his head and not in this game either. In the Caughnawaga game in the semifinal we beat them pretty handily (14-2) but he made some real good stops and we needed those stops,” Cornfield said.
Bal finished with three goals and two assists and Graedon had a pair and three helpers.
Triolo was the game MVP for the Miners and Nick Patterson was the man of the match for the Timbermen with 54 saves.
“We had a bunch of chances near the end of the game and especially after we called that time out,” Cornfield said.
The Miners prevailed inside a raucous arena packed with fans wearing Timbermen red.
“There were about 4,00 people in there that all wanted to see us lose,” Cornfield said. “They had native drummers there and it was loud. It was a different atmosphere for sure. It was crazy.”
The semifinal result against the Caughnawaga Indians was the complete opposite of the tournament’s only loss for the Miners, 10-7 against the Three Nations team on Aug. 29.
”The difference was we were coming off a two-game day the day previous. We played Ontario (15-8 over Oakville Titans) and Nanaimo (10-5 win) and then we played them in the afternoon the next day. We were tired and they had a big bruising defence and I think we tried to change our game a little bit in order to suit their defence. That’s never made us successful. We always make teams play our game and that’s what makes us successful, so when we saw them in the semifinal we said we're going to play our game and make them play our game and obviously we just took it to them,” Cornfield said.
The last round-robin game was Friday’s 10-9 squeaker against the Ladner Pioneers, the WCLL finalists, as Nik Farris and Derek Burak scored the last two goals of the game to put the Miners on top. Brady Johnson and Matt Hiebert also split time in net.
The legacy of the Miners continues next year with a record-breaking fourth Presidents’ Cup in a row within reach.
“We have a really good strong core of young players coming up and we still have some veterans who are coming back as well. We're still going to strive to be the best team that we can. I can promise you I won’t be playing but we’re definitely going to do everything we can to compete again and try to win another one,” said Cornfield, 35. “Next year will be tough because it’s in Kahnawake, but the year after that it will be back in Alberta, and we're going to try and put in a bid to host it.
“We want the Miners’ winning tradition to continue every year wherever we play.”
Written by Jeff Hansen