Rush Defender Toll Focuses on Minto Cup August 18-26August 16, 2012 - National Lacrosse League (NLL) Edmonton Rush
"The Minto Cup is something special because it's the hardest tournament to win," said Toll, who captured the Cup back in 1991 with the St. Catharines Athletics.
"You've only got four, now five, years to this championship, and it's the best thing in the world to win. The Mann Cup, you could play 20 years of senior and win in it on your 20th year, but the Minto you've only got those four or five years to become known as the best junior players in the world. It's a very proud accomplishment to reach."
The 2012 Minto Cup brings Toll full-circle with the event, from former player to coach with the host and defending champion Whitby Warriors. Entering the tournament this weekend against the Calgary Mountaineers, the Warriors will look to become the 12th team in Minto history to win the championship in two or more consecutive years.
Whitby (Host) and Calgary Mountaineers (Alberta champion) will be joined alongside Orangeville (Ontario champion) and Coquitlam (British Columbia champion) in the 2012 Minto Cup tournament.
"I remember being awestruck," reflected Toll, whose 15th National Lacrosse League season saw him help guide the Edmonton Rush to the Champion's Cup final.
"Back then you only had the team from B.C. play the winner from Ontario, and you never got to see anyone else. Even now since Alberta has become stronger and a host team has been added, and there's no Team Canada, you really don't know what you're going up against. Then to go on and win it, that's quite a feeling for a 16-year-old."
Toll's memories of the tournament from a player's perspective are obviously quite fond considering his A's took care of business against the always potent New Westminster Salmonbellies back in '91. Repeating as Toll's Athletics did is not a simple task. Motivation, as the host team, was a frequent sore spot for Whitby throughout the Ontario Junior League season. But now that the grand finale is here, Toll can extoll his wisdom upon the Warriors.
"As a coach you're always trying to tell your players about your experiences and what can happen, and how to be prepared for certain things," said Toll, who finished as St. Catharines' all-time leader in assists (355) and points (607).
Toll would go on to play 196 regular-season games in the National Lacrosse League, notching 400 points and nearly 1,500 loose balls. The St. Catharines native played in three NLL All-Star Games, earned the league's Transition Player of the Year award in 2007, and captured four Champion's Cup trophies - three while playing for the Toronto Rock and another with the Rochester Knighthawks. With those credentials, Toll certainly can speak on the recipe required for success. So too can the returning members of last year's championship Whitby club.
"The boys who were there last year know what it takes to win," added Toll. "Now with the tournament at home, we've told the boys to take care of everything like your family's tickets now - get all of that out of the way - so they can get their minds' focused on one thing.
"It's very difficult to repeat. It's a very hard thing to motivate 16- to 21-year-olds when they know they're already in (the Minto Cup tournament) no matter what. But now that it's here, the best of the best, everyone wants to see who plays the best in the big games."
Season tickets are now on sale for the 2012 NLL Western Divisional Champions Edmonton Rush, call the Rush office at (780) 732-RUSH.
Only 11 teams have repeated or won multiple Minto Cup championship in consecutive years. The most successful run came from 1963 through 1969 when the Oshawa Green Gaels won seven straight Cups, defeating the New Westminster Salmonbellies in each championship tournament.
The second-longest streak of championships belongs to the Peterborough PCO's and Gray Munros which won four straight titles from 1972 through 1975. Peterborough defeated Richmond and Burnaby twice apiece while winning those Cups.
Minto Cup Streaks
Brampton ABC's (3) - 1957 through 1959
Oshawa Green Gaels (7) - 1963 through 1969
Peterborough PCO's/Gray Munros (4) - 1972 through 1975
Burnaby Cablevision (3) - 1977 through 1979
Peterborough James Gang (3) - 1981 through 1983
Whitby Warriors (2) - 1984 and 1985
Peterborough Maulers (2) - 1986 and 1987
St. Catharines Athletics (2) - 1990 and 1991
Orangeville Northmen (2) - 1995 and 1996
Burnaby Lakers (2) - 2004 and 2005
Orangeville Northmen (2) - 2008 and 2009
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