As the 2017 Major Series Lacrosse regular season draws to a close this week, only one thing is left to be figured out, and that is which team will take first place.
All season, the Peterborough Lakers and Six Nations Chiefs have been in a dogfight for first place. Each team has only lost once; the Lakers to the last-place Cobourg Kodiaks and the Chiefs to the Lakers.
Assuming the Chiefs beat the Brampton Excelsiors on Thursday and the Lakers beat Cobourg the same evening, first-place comes down to Tuesday evening’s match-up between the two superpowers at the Iroquois Lacrosse Arena.
Each team sports an embarrassment of riches. The Chiefs – Johnny Powless, Randy Staats (and probably Austin, too), Ryan Benesch, Dhane Smith, Jordan Durston, Craig Point and Kyle Jackson. For the Lakers – Shawn Evans, Curtis Dickson, Adam Jones, Mark Steenhuis, Kyle Buchanan, Josh Currier and Holden Cattoni. Not to mention the defences and the goaltending, as well as the depth players each team has available.
Dan Dawson and Cody Jamieson are the only difference-makers currently out with injuries.
When the two teams met in early June, both relied heavily on call-ups. It was still one of the most competitive MSL games of the season. The rivalry runs deep. Tuesday’s game will be the marquee match-up of the season. The league couldn’t ask for a better last week of play.
Because of the way the league schedules games, the Lakers and Chiefs only play each other twice this regular season, meaning they’re really unknown entities to each other. The fans were the biggest losers of this schedule, though. There are no better games than when these two rivals play.
Chances are, whoever ends up in first place won’t matter. The Lakers and Chiefs have faced each other in the league final each of the last three seasons. Each series went seven games, with the visiting team winning the deciding game – Six Nations in 2014 and 2016, and the Lakers in 2015.
On Monday, Brampton defeated the Oakville Rock 10-8 in OT, killing any chance for the Rock to overtake the Brooklin Redmen for third place. The Rock and Redmen have one game remaining on Wednesday, against each other, but Brooklin is already three points up on the Rock.
At this point, the Lakers are up by 14 points over the Redmen, and 17 over the Rock.
The Rock will take on the first-place team and the Redmen will take on the second-place team. Playoffs will begin on Tuesday, August 1.
Brampton and Cobourg will miss the playoffs again.