Minto Cup Preview: Burlington Blaze

Ontario Champion: Burlington Blaze

Regular Season: 14-6 (2nd)

Playoffs: 11-3 (Ontario Champion)


All summer long it looked as though it would be the all too familiar look of the Orangeville Northmen heading West to represent Ontario. Instead, the Burlington Blaze stepped in front of the speeding bullet that was terrorizing the rest of the OJLL and said not so fast. The Blaze would knock off Orangeville in six games capping off the series with a 9-6 victory that didn't even feel all that close.

After finishing the regular season in second place with a 14-6 record Burlington was a clear contender but it always felt like their ceiling was much higher and that they had so much more to give. Come playoff time they did just that sweeping St. Catharines (3-0) and eliminating a feisty Mimico team (4-1) before they sent shock-waves through most of the country with their defeat of heavily favoured Orangeville (4-2).

Led by the Ontario Junior Lacrosse League coaching staff of the year Burlington peaked at the most vital time a moment Head Coach Dan MaCrae has been working towards for a handful of years now. Burlington of course coming within one game of qualifying for last season's Minto Cup before bowing out in the deciding game to Toronto. Prior to that the Blaze also made it into the Ontario Finals in 2019 before being taken out by Orangeville. In 2023 however, Burlington got their revenge and now find themselves in their first Minto Cup in franchise history!

Powered by a dynamic offence the Blaze are multidimensional in that they can inflict damage from both the inside of the floor and the perimeter. Braedon Saris and Alex Marinier present some of the best outside shooting in the tournament while players like Will MaCleod and Josh Rosa are slippery and can navigate their way inside. Deadline acquisition Zach Thompson from Peterborough provides another significant offensive threat and another distributor to the offence. Burlington also went through the entire playoffs minus a half game without star lefty Coltrane Tyson who could be back at some point. Overall, I would expect the Ontario champs to have the most dynamic offence in the tournament.

Defensively and between the pipes Burlington has really improved over the back half of the season. Picking up Deacon Knott from Peterborough at the deadline paid off in the Ontario Final as his mobility gave Orangeville some problems as that series went along. The defence may not be as aggressive as I've seen in years past but in that clinching game they really kept the Northmen to the perimeter. One thing Dan MaCrae's team has always done extremely well is get on hands and not allow clean shots from the outside. Something to watch for as the tournament progresses is how high they play and if they start to press up a bit higher depending on the opponent.

I believe this year's Ontario representative to be substantially better than what we saw in 2022, especially in terms of depth. Additionally, I have long had a great deal of respect for the coaching and tactical ability of Head Coach Dan MacRae so if/when adjustments are needed expect the correct ones to be made. Ultimately I see Burlington's success riding on their offence and ability to get to the inside of the floor off ball to open up their elite outside shooters for looks.

Burlington opens the tournament Sunday night against the Alberta champion and host Edmonton Miners at 8:00pm. For more information check out and @TheMintoCup


By: Muhammad Jomha

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