Buchanan and Burke share Bucko MacDonald Trophy as top scorer award in Major Series Lacrosse
Each player had a sixty-eight point season - Brampton Excelsiors' Mike Burke and Peterborough Lakers' Kyle Buchanan - which left the two players tied for the MSL Scoring race. Buchanan scored 23 goals and added 45 assists. Burke acquired his totals by scoring 17 goals along with 51 assists. Not surprisingly, both players spent little time in the penalty box as Burke accumulated only 17 minutes in penalties and Buchanan even less, totaling just 8 penalty minutes.
If one was monitoring the scoring race - going into the final game of the season for both of the players - Buchanan had a 5 point lead. However, Burke had a 9 point night in his final game of the season against Cobourg which certainly helped his cause and momentarily elevated him into the point scoring lead. With the Brampton game a final score and the Lakers' game not yet competed, Buchanan still needed a point to catch up to Burke. He achieved that at the 9:48 mark of the third period assisting on a goal by team-mate Josh Currier, leaving Mike Burke and Kyle Buchanan tied for the scoring race which means they are co-winners of the "Bucko McDonald Trophy". (Note: Wilfred "Bucko" McDonald was both an outstanding lacrosse and hockey player winning one Mann Cup and three Stanley Cups. He was inducted into the Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame in 1971. The Ontario Lacrosse Association named the highest scoring player award the "Bucko McDonald Trophy" to honor him).
This is Kyle Buchanan's second season with the Lakers. The 5'7" 165 pound, soon to be 31 years old right hand shot, was voted the Lakers' MVP last season. Initially, drafted by Brooklin, he was part of a trade that saw Brampton trade Kyle Rubisch and Chris Corbeil to acquire Buchanan. Buchanan expressed his desire to Brampton management that he wanted the opportunity to play with a team that was not in a rebuild as Brampton was at the time. They obliged Kyle and traded him to Peterborough. The trade included a first round pick, a second round pick and future considerations going to Brampton. Lakers General Manager Paul Day does not hold back in expressing his admiration for #22 - "Kyle Buchanan in my opinion should have been the MVP last season AND this season in Major Series Lacrosse. He is a tremendous leader on the floor and in the dressing room. Kyle does everything well and is all about the team".
Born in Nepean, Ontario - having played Junior "A" for the now defunct Ottawa Titans and Akwesasne Indian teams, the exceptionally modest Buchanan is quick to acknowledge, "There are more and more players coming out of Ottawa and the East in general. Before me, there was Jeff Zywicki and Callum Crawford. I am not the first and there are more coming". He feels privileged to be part of a team such as the Lakers - "We are loaded with talent. On any given shift I am on the floor with great players. They make me look good".
Mike Burke is a different story. He is a lacrosse legacy player. His grandfather Mike and father Bob both played for the Excelsiors. His Dad is in the Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame. It is not a stretch to suggest that Burke is a Brampton Excelsiors lifer. He did play two seasons of Junior "B" with Halton Hills, but the final three years of his junior career were playing Junior "A" with Brampton, where he won numerous awards including Rookie of the Year, Top Scorer and Most Valuable Player. The 6'1" 195 pound right hand shot turned 30 this year and just completed his seventh season of play with the Major Series Excelsiors.
On being a co-winner of the MSL scoring title, Burke recalled the final night of the schedule this season and commented, "As a team, we played well at home. Our offence had improved during the season and we were looking to end the season on a good note. I did not think about the scoring race as I assumed Kyle Buchanan would add to his total. The thought of winning the scoring race was not in my mind at all. It was not until after the game at a restaurant, a team-mate mentioned what had happened".
Burke is excited about next season already. He sees a strong core of players on the current roster that will be improved with some graduating juniors. "Both the GMs for the Junior and Major series teams have done a good job building the clubs. It looks like the Junior "A" team will win the Minto Cup. We are already young and fast and that is going to be even more so next year".
When asked, Brampton Excelsiors' Head Coach Steve McCarthy speaks highly about Mike Burke - "Mike has done a great job molding himself into a real team player. When he first stepped up to Major level lacrosse, he needed some time and experience to learn how to handle the higher caliber game. He had the reputation as a goal scorer. Now, he distributes the ball so well, which is reflected in his assists total. He is a much better player without the ball than he use to be. He also stands up for his team mates. Mike has worked hard to become a complete lacrosse player and developed strong leadership skills to go along with his lacrosse talent".
Certainly, fans of Major Series Lacrosse enjoy watching the skills of players such as Mike Burke and Kyle Buchanan in action. They are two fine examples of why Major Series Lacrosse is the best lacrosse in the world.
(Photo of Kyle Buchanan - courtesy of Kendall Taylor)
(Photo of Mike Burke - courtesy of Dan Bowyer)