Lakers and Shamrocks battle for Mann Cup
Peterborough Lakers will take on the Victoria Shamrocks in the best of seven series for the Mann Cup. The Lakers are going for their third consecutive Mann Cup championship and their fifth in ten years.
A team does not make it to the Mann Cup without an abundance of talent and some good fortune along the way such as an overall healthy roster and no serious injuries, particularly to key players. One aspect that is far too often overlooked is the behind the scenes accomplishments of the General Manager. The would be Paul Day for the Lakers and Chris Welch for the Shamrocks. Both of these men have done a masterful job in building Mann Cup worthy teams. They have made strategic player acquisitions and trades over recent years including this season, to assemble rosters that can win the Mann Cup.
Fatigue Factor – The Teams Are Rested
Having eliminated Six Nations in six games to win the Ontario Championship, Peterborough will have had eight days of recovery before Game 1 of the series which commences on Friday, September 6th. Victoria eliminated Maple Ridge in five games to win the Western Lacrosse Association Championship and have had 11 days of rest prior to the beginning of the Mann Cup. The Lakers have played a total of 11 playoff games to date. The Shamrocks have played 9.
Neither the Lakers or Shamrocks are going to divulge any injuries they do not have to acknowledge. Presumably, most of the players have their share of bumps and bruises from having battled during the regular season and in two playoff series to make it to the Mann Cup. However, the teams have had some time to heal minor injuries.
Specific serious injuries that are known include Thomas Hoggarth for Peterborough. Hoggarth, who missed most of the MSL final with a knee injury is expected to be ready to go for Game 1 of the Mann Cup series.
The Shamrocks face a more serious injury. Jesse King, one of the team’s leading offensive players (57 points in 12 regular season games and an astounding 38 points in 8 playoff games) is suffering from an upper-body injury. The Shamrocks are being silent about the situation – obviously, hoping for a quick recovery.
Peterborough has two exceptionally capable goalies in Matt Vinc and Mike Poulin who have been rotated. Both Vinc and Poulin have 4 wins in the playoffs in 2019. However, Matt Vinc's wife is expecting to give birth to a baby any day, so his arrival for the series is to be determined. The Lakers have goalie Landon Kells as a backup. He played for the Junior “A” Lakers this season. Kells backstopped the Elora Mohawks winning the Goaltender of the Tournament in the 2018 Founders Cup (Junior “B” champions of Canada).
Victoria goaltenders are Cody Hagedorn and Pete Dubenski. An early-season addition in a trade with Nanaimo, Dubenski has been hugely successful in the 2019 WLA playoffs collecting 7 wins. After playing Senior “B” last season, he was named 2019 MVP of the WLA playoffs.
If team defence wins championships, both teams are well stocked. The Lakers have a strong and experienced defensive corps led by team Captain Robert Hope, along with veteran Brock Sorensen and capable defenders Eric Shewell, Bryce Sweeting, Nick Weiss, Zach Currier, Matt Gilray, Jordan Stouros and Chad Tutton among others.
The Shamrocks have Graeme Hossack who is regarded as one of the very best defensive players in the game today. Steve Priolo is also a top-notch defender. Names maybe unknown to Eastern Canada lacrosse fans that helped the Shamrocks make it to the Mann Cup include Matt Yager, Liam Patten, Derek Lloyd, Dallas Wade, Adrian Sorichetti, Josh Fagan, Tyson Gibson and Tyler Burton.
The Shamrocks offence is led by WLA rookie-of-the-year Chris Boushy who fired 37 goals in 17 games this season. Connor Robinson picked up from Langley in a trade had 64 points including 40 assists will be vital for the Shamrocks in the Mann Cup. Other offensive threats for Victoria include Larson Sundown, Tyler Pace, Chris Wardle and Marshal King. If he is unable to play, the loss of the aforementioned Jesse King could prove to be costly for the Shamrocks.
The Lakers are loaded with offensive talent. The 2019 Ontario Championship MVP Mark Matthews is a force. Kyle Buchanan – second in league scoring during the regular led the league in assists with 52 and added 17 goals. Future Hall of Famer Shawn Evans collected 62 points and placed fourth in MSL scoring in 2019. Other dangerous offensive players include Holden Cattoni – 23 goals and 24 assists; Corey Small – 19 goals and 21 assists (Small was the Mann Cup MVP in 2015 when he played for the Shamrocks who defeated Peterborough); and Cory Vitarelli who led the league in power play goals netting 8 on the man advantage. Along with the emerging talent of Thomas Hoggarth, Peterborough has plenty of players who can put the ball in the net.
Well known to lacrosse fans in the East, Peterborough’s Head Coach Mike Hasen and his assistant coaches Bob Keast (Defence) and Tracey Kelusky (offence) have a wealth of success as players winning numerous Mann Cups along. This success has continued as coaches in stress inducing playoff action, having won two of the past three Mann Cups.
For the Shamrocks, Head Coach Bob Heyes has been at the helm for seven seasons – making the playoffs 6 times; winning 3 WLA championships and the Mann Cup once in 2015 (over Peterborough). Defensive Coach – Art Webster has been a coach with three Mann Cup teams in 2003, 2005, and 2015. Offensive Coach Mike Simpson joined the team in 2017 rounds out the highly respected staff. John Hamilton is the video coach joined the coaching staff in 2017, He earned Mann Cup championships as a player in 1997 and 1999.
Home Advantage (?)
There is a presumption that having the entire series in one city creates an edge for the home team. Visiting team players sleep in a hotel and consume restaurant meals. The home team’s routine changes little. Players sleep in their own beds and consume home cooked meals. However, it can be argued the visiting team has the advantage of less distractions of their usual home life and can be totally focused on their mission to win the Mann Cup.
For what it’s worth, in the most recent 10 Mann Cup championships, the home team has won 6 of the 10 (5 times by the East, once by the West)
The six times the home team won the Mann Cup in the past ten years;
2010 - Peterborough over New Westminster in 6 games
2012 - Peterborough over Langley in 6
2014 - Six Nations over Victoria in 6 games
2015 – Victoria over Peterborough in 6 games
2016 – Six Nations over Maple Ridge in 5 games
2018 - Peterborough over Maple Ridge in 4 games
The four times that the visiting team won the series, it was an MSL team on each occasion
2009 - Brampton over New Westminster in 7 games
2011- Brampton over Langley in 5 games
2013 - Six Nations over Victoria in 6 games
2017 - Peterborough over New Westminster in 6 games.
Teams representing the East have won 4 of the last 5 Mann Cups and 9 of the last 10. The East has won 13 of the past 15 Mann Cups. Victoria won both times when the West won the Mann Cup during the past 15 championships.
Historically, Victoria has won 9 Mann Cups. Peterborough has won 16 Mann Cups. Head to head – the Lakers have defeated the Shamrocks in 7 of 12 Mann Cup series. In the most recent series in 2015, Victoria defeated Peterborough in six games. That is interesting trivia, but will have little impact on the 2019 Mann Cup.
The current Shamrocks team has had significant changes with only 7 players remaining from the veteran team that won the 2015 Mann Cup. Peterborough has 11 players still on their roster that lost the 2015 Mann Cup series and they look to make up for it.
The Lakers have won back-to-back Mann Cup championships – 2017 in New Westminister over the Salmonbellies and 2018 in Peterborough over Maple Ridge. They are expecting to make it three straight and are required to do it on the road. The Shamrocks are striving to pick up their second Mann Cup in five years.
For lacrosse fans – it is time for the Holy Grail – the Mann Cup series – where lacrosse fans across the country find themselves watching some of the very best lacrosse players in the World as the two most successful teams in the country go head to head in a best of seven series.
Regardless of which team you are cheering for – the array of player talent - the abundance of individual and team skill - the top level of athleticism – the experienced coaching staffs - should make for outstanding entertainment. Enjoy!
Mann Cup Schedule
Game 1 – Friday, September 6th
Game 2 – Saturday, September 7th
Games 3 - Monday, September 9th
Game 4 – Tuesday, September 10th
Game 5 – Wednesday, September 11th (if necessary)
Game 6 – Friday, September 13th (if necessary)
Game 7 – Saturday, September 14th (if necessary)