As now the five-time defending B.C. champions, the Coquitlam junior Adanacs know there is nothing 'old hat' about competing in the Minto Cup.
Everything that is old is new again - including the expectations.
Coquitlam is making a fifth straight appearance at the national championships, after bowling over the New Westminster Salmonbellies 15-11 on Sunday to take the B.C. title three games to two.
Despite a gritty and powerful Bellies rally in the middle frame - where New West tied it with four unanswered goals - Coquitlam collected provincial bragging rights for the four-team tourney, which starts Saturday at New West's Queen's Park Arena.
"A tough second period but we came out really well in the first," said A's head coach Neil Doddridge of the 6-2 lead after 20 minutes. "In the second intermission we regrouped and then won the period, won the war. The boys really stepped up."
Captain Tyler Garrison scored all three of his goals in the final frame, beginning the period with a clutch move past a defender just 31 seconds in.
New West, which entered the fifth-and-deciding game bolstered by wins of 14-9 and 9-6, had no answer for the Adanacs' blitz, and mustered just 11 shots at Coquitlam netminder Peter Dubenski in the third.
Steven Neufeld, who was selected the playoff MVP, cashed in three of his own to finish the playoffs with a league-high 29 points in eight games. Reid Reinholdt, meanwhile, tallied twice and set up five others.
"It was just a great team effort by everyone," said 21-year-old Neufeld. "We had a nice lead there but didn't have the second we wanted. We battled back in the third, led by our captain Tyler Garrison. When he's going, the team's going."
With offensive leader Wesley Berg on crutches after suffering an ankle injury in Game 3, Coquitlam will head into the Minto tourney - opening against Alberta champ Okotoks on Aug. 17 - with a simple strategy.
"You've just got to break it into periods, which is what we did here," said Doddridge. "That's going to be key, but that's how we approached the season - one period at a time."
A lot of attention will be on the first encounter with Ontario champion Whitby, who outlasted Six Nations in their final. Coquitlam has a rematch with New Westminster on Sunday, then face Whitby on Monday. The top two teams in tourney play advance to a best-of-five final, which starts Aug. 22. The A's games all begin at 8 p.m. "(Whitby) always played tough games, they've got good coaching and they won the 2011 title," remarked Doddridge. "I look at their lineup [and] there are guys who were on that roster. They'll be tough to battle but we are in a good situation with good goaltending, good defence and our offence is coming around."
The consensus may be that Whitby is the team to beat, as Ontario teams have prevailed every year since Coquitlam captured its first Minto title in 2010. Neufeld feels that they've got plenty of motivation to keep the ball rolling.
"It's a national championship, everyone's going to be fired up. There are going to be no nights off, everyone is just going to gun it as much as they can," said the six-foot-eight shooter.
Lisa King, Now / A huge third period by the Coquitlam Adanacs spirited them past the New Westminster Salmonbellies on Sunday, giving them five straight B.C. junior A playoff titles. Both teams now advance to the Minto Cup national championships.;
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