Tonight’s game six is the first chance a team has to be crowned the 2014 Mann Cup champion. The Six Nations Chiefs currently hold a three games to two lead over the Victoria Shamrocks, and if they can wrangle up some more killer instinct, this series won’t need a seventh game.
Versus Peterborough in the MSL final, the Chiefs had a 3-1 series lead before losing their momentum to a strong team. Peterborough had the Chiefs twenty minutes away from a game seven loss, before something sparked inside the Chiefs, who went on a six goal run in the third to claim the crown. Their ability to go on those goal runs is unmatched by anyone in lacrosse, especially with Cody Jamieson in the mix, one of the best players in the world.
The Shamrocks have lost starting goaltender Matt Flindell after he took a shot to the head in game four. He is not expected to return this series. That’s a lot of pressure on backup Cody Hagedorn, who is in his first season with the senior Shamrocks, and is now suddenly right in the spotlight. Hagedorn did well in his Mann Cup debut, stopping 37 Chiefs shots, although the Shamrocks lost 8-6. The young goaltender will have to put a stop to any runs by the Chiefs, especially Jamieson and Jeff Shattler, who have combined for 44 points in five games, if the Shamrocks want to play game seven. They will also have to beat Brandon Miller, who, after recovering from pneumonia in the MSL finals, has been playing inspired lacrosse, and is showing why he is one of the best goaltenders in the game today.
So far, the series has been fairly even, with low scoring, disciplined, high caliber lacrosse. Two games have gone to overtime. Both of these teams deserve to be where they are, playing for Canada’s highest lacrosse honour, however, only one can win. Victoria’s last cup was in 2005; Six Nations won last season, and would love nothing more than to repeat.
If the Chiefs win, Johnny Powless has the opportunity to become the first player in history to win a Minto Cup, Mann Cup, and NLL Champions Cup in the same calendar year (Shawn Evans won the Minto & Mann in 2006, and the Champions Cup in 2007, all three in under 12 months).