Richmond Lacrosse products help Delta get to Minto Cup and win first junior “A” title

A pair of Richmond lacrosse standouts have leading roles in taking the Delta Islanders to where they have never gone before.

The Islanders will be making their first-ever appearance at the Minto Cup national junior “A” championships which start this weekend at the Langley Events Centre. The four-team event features round-robin play through Monday and the top three moving onto the playoffs, including a best-of-five final series starting next Thursday.

Delta locked up one of two Minto Cup berths up for grabs in the host province by winning a B.C. Junior “A” Lacrosse League semi-final series against the New West Salmonbellies. The Islanders then took it one step further by upsetting seven-time defending champion Coquitlam Adanacs in the finals for their first BCJALL title in the franchise’s 15-year history.

A thrilling best-of-three series, featured two overtime battles, including a double overtime tilt in the deciding game. It was an all-Richmond connection that ended the drama as captain Brad Hofmann set-up Nick Jensen for his second of the night, just 39-seconds into the sudden-death period.

Hofmann and Jensen are key defenders for the Islanders but their offensive production played a big part in the series outcome.
Jensen posted 13 points in 21 regular season games and nearly matched that output in nine playoff games with 10 points, including five goals. The overtime winner was his second of the night in the series decider.  He said his offensive production reflects a number of changes the team made at the league trading deadline, including the addition of Victoria defender Adam Jay who also had two goals in game three. The Adanacs had entered the finals with a perfect 25-0-0 record.  “I think it has a lot to do with the new additions, Adam especially. I don’t know what it is but we seem to work really well together,” explained Jensen. “I think we both push ourselves to get up the floor. We were getting killed by Coquitlam earlier in transition and thought we had the opportunity to give it back to them.”  Delta’s defenders have also been pushing forward a lot more since the club landed standout goaltender Kevin Orleman from the Ontario Junior “A” Lacrosse League.  During the overtime intermission, Delta coach Greg Rennie had encouraged his defensemen to jump into the play. Jensen would go on to score the biggest goal of his life.  “I was matched up against (Adanacs star Tyler) Pace and Jay took him down so I just took off (on a 3-on-2 break),” recalled Jensen. “Their guy didn’t push (Hofmann) until late. I was off to the side a bit but was lucky to hit the bottom corner.”  Jensen began his junior “A” career in Burnaby last year thanks to the league’s midget draft. He came to Delta in a pre-season trade and was re-united with Rennie who coached him with the Intermediate “A” Roadrunners.

Other former Roadrunners with Delta include Spencer Bromley, Jayden Campbell, Brett Anderson, Connor Davidson and goalie Ryland Hood.  “Nick is a big game player and he proved that in intermediate and when he played for me on the Canada West team last year (at the Junior Worlds),” said Rennie. “Hofmann was absolutely huge for us the entire series against Coquitlam and showed why he is our captain.”  Hofmann has been in Delta for the past three seasons and says the club has been building momentum towards its breakthrough run.  “Coquitlam has been really good in the past and this year we felt like we had what it takes to beat them,” he said. “We have all been working really hard for this, starting three years ago. It’s paid off now and we still have some work to do.”

The Islanders will open Minto Cup round-robin play against Alberta champions Calgary Mountaineers and Ontario champions Orangeville Northmen on Saturday and Sunday respectively. It’s then a rematch with the Adanacs on Monday. All games start at 8 p.m. at the Langley Events Centre.


© 2016 Richmond News

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