The Peterborough Lakers captured their sixth Mann Cup since 2004 on September 15 at Queen’s Park Arena in New Westminster, defeating the host Salmonbellies four games to two.
The Lakers came back from a 2-0 deficit to win four straight games.
“That’s a great lacrosse team,” said first-time Mann Cup winner Curtis Dickson about the Salmonbellies. “They were WLA champs for a reason. They came ready to play. We came out obviously a little slow and we had to figure things out and get back to our game plan and tie the series up and swing the momentum our way.”
Shawn Evans, named the Mike Kelley winner as Mann Cup MVP, admitted the Lakers were a little bit nervous after their slow start.
“New West is a good team,” he recognized. “Kevin Crowley was shooting lights out. Mitch Jones was shooting lights out. It was tough, going down 2-0. It was kind of scary for a bit but we battled back.”
The hardwood floor of QPA gave the Lakers some fits in the first two games as they adjusted to the different bounces, but after a few practices, they got the hang of it and turned the tables on the ‘Bellies.
“We got the saves when we wanted them, we got the D stepping up when we needed it and the offense pulling the same way,” Evans said. “We have a great crew, a young crew and it showed. It showed in the playoffs and it showed in the Mann Cup.”
“It’s a real family environment,” said first-year captain Robert Hope of the Lakers’ ability to rebound. “I wouldn’t want to play with any other group of guys. From the coaching staff to the executive down, to be able to play with these guys is a great opportunity. Everyone looks after one another.”
In game six, the teams tied at three in the first period before Shawn Evans followed up a Zach Currier fast-break goal for a 5-3 Lakers lead. Evans had a first period hat-trick on his way to a five-goal outburst to lead the Lakers.
The Lakers kept their feet on the gas with three goals to start the second period to go up 8-3. Kevin Crowley’s 13th goal of the series broke up the Lakers’ run but the ‘Bellies weren’t able muster any momentum for a run of their own and trailed 10-5 after two.
Logan Schuss led the ‘Bellies attack in the final frame with three goals, but the Lakers kept up their own scoring pace. The ‘Bellies desperately tried to mount a comeback, but even with Alex Buque pulled, they couldn’t beat Evan Kirk and the Lakers’ defense. Hope scored into an empty net at 18:20 to put the Lakers up 14-10.
“Each and every year it’s our goal to win a Mann Cup,” Hope said. “I said that was our goal when I was introduced as captain. We expected to be here, we wanted to be here and we want to keep this going for years to come.”
The Lakers’ MSL resurgence began in 2004 when they defeated the Victoria Shamrocks in six games. Following that were Cups in 2006, 2007, 2010 and 2012. In the five years since their win over the Langley Thunder, the Lakers have gone through a myriad of roster and staffing changes. Only Shawn Evans and Brad Self remain from the 2004 team, and only Evans, Self, Cory Vitarelli and Mark Steenhuis remain from 2012. The team was still competitive through all its changes, making it to the MSL finals versus the Six Nations Chiefs in 2014, 2015 and 2016, winning in 2015 but losing to the Shamrocks in the Mann Cup.
“Two years ago we watched Victoria celebrate… after they won so that’s been stuck in the back of my mind for a long time,” said Dickson. “Two years ago was heartbreak but we made up for it (this year).”
The Lakers always felt they had unfinished business out west after falling to the Shamrocks in six games.
Many Lakers competed in their first Mann Cup that year; many more did this year.
“It’s a great group,” head coach Mike Hasen expressed. “Paulie (Paul Day) and TK (Tracey Kelusky) and Keaster (Bobby Keast) have done a dynamite job getting everybody to buy in. And they’re young. That’s the thing, they’re really young. We had 15 guys that played (in game six) under 25 and that’s a good group when they believe in each other. They have all year long. Who knows what’s going to happen with this group.”
The Lakers will celebrate their Mann Cup win on October 14th with a parade and banquet. More details will be released to the public soon.