The Mann Cup Canadian championship returned this year after a two-year Covid-19 absence, and it was a series for the ages.
The Peterborough Lakers of Major Series Lacrosse – defending champs – and the Langley Thunder of the Western Lacrosse Association met in Peterborough in early September to battle for the national title. The hometown Lakers were victorious, winning the series in a nail biting seven-game series.
The Lakers came out of the East from a four-team MSL, defeating the first place Six Nations Chiefs in six games in the final. It was a season marred by off-floor issues, not the least of which included a fight between Brampton and Owen Sound for the rights to the Excelsiors franchise. The Oakville Rock also sat out the season.
The Thunder finished in a four-way tie for first place in the West, and beat the Victoria Shamrocks and Nanaimo Timbermen to take the league title. Both of those teams are on Vancouver Island, which meant a lot of ferry rides back and forth for the Thunder.
Peterborough and Langley had faced off before; Peterborough hosted the series 10 years ago in 2012 and won in six games after dropping the first two. Only three players from 2012 returned in 2022: Shawn Evans and Cory Vitarelli for the Lakers, and Steve Fryer for the Thunder.
There was a lot on the line for the Lakers: they were going for their fourth consecutive championship, a number that would tie the 1951-54 Peterborough Timbermen/Trailermen as tops in the box lacrosse era. No team has yet won five in a row.
The Lakers had been through a gruelling season. They lost a number of players to injury and other commitments, and had a shorter than typical bench throughout the season, meaning a lot of Sr. B players and junior A callups got into the lineup. The Lakers are used to relying on their depth, and a “next man up” mentality. This season, there typically was no next man. They had five different goalies start games, and a sixth dress as a backup.
They got a boost for the playoffs when NLL MVP candidate Joe Resetarits returned from an ankle injury, and Matt Vinc worked his way back from a hand injury to play a significant role in the Mann Cup. Rookies Austin Hasen, Taite Cattoni and Mitch Ogilvie played huge roles throughout the season.
Injuries kept piling up during the Mann Cup: Turner Evans left after Game 1 to a broken rib; though he returned for Game 7, still injured, to replace his cousin Shawn Evans, who rolled his ankle on the carpet in Game 6. Shawn took warmup in Game 7 but decided at game time he couldn’t go. Thomas Hoggarth missed Game 1 with an inner ear infection and Game 6 with a shoulder injury; Resetarits and Ogilivie each missed a pair of games with the flu; and Taite Cattoni missed Game 7 after colliding with a Langley player. Not to mention starting goaltender Doug Buchan going down with a swollen knee.
But, their experience, their coaching, and the leadership in the room kept them steady, even when they found themselves down 2-0 after the first two games.
Here’s a quick game-by- game recap:
Game 1: Langley 16, Peterborough 11
MSL games this season rarely featured over 12 goals per team, so allowing 16 was a shock for the Lakers. Curtis Dickson scored 55 seconds into the game and Langley never trailed. Dickson and Dobbie each had four goals and four assists, and Dylan Kinnear scored five times.
Game 2: Langley 15, Peterborough 14 2OT
Peterborough fans felt their team should have won this game, as video replay showed Dobbie’s tying goal to send the game to overtime was scored after the buzzer, but counted anyway. His winning goal was also in the crease. But the Lakers didn’t dwell on it (their fans made their disgust known on social media, however).
Game 3: Peterborough 12, Langley 6
Enter the GOAT. Matt Vinc started this game after replacing Doug Buchan midway through Game 2. Vinc’s stability was just what the doctor ordered. Holden and Taite Cattoni combined for 12 points and the defence held the Thunder to three goals in the final 40 minutes.oHHHfkjdf
Game 4: Peterborough 15, Langley 12
Toronto Maple Leafs captain John Tavares was in attendance to watch Shawn Evans tie his uncle John’s Mann Cup points record. It was a back-and-forth game that saw the referees have to intervene as the teams came together at centre floor after the game amid rising tensions.
Game 5: Peterborough 10, Langley 5
Game 5 marks the hardest stretch of the Mann Cup, ending three games in three days – and it was the third win in a row for the Lakers. Holden Cattoni scored five goals, and Shawn Evans’ assist on Joe Resetarits’ first period goal – his 204th Mann Cup point – broke John Tavares’ points record.
Game 6: Langley 9, Peterborough 4
Langley wasn’t ready to go home and played a smart, physical game. The Lakers faltered and took a beating, losing three players to injury in front of a record crowd at the Memorial Centre. Langley goaltender Frankie Scigliano played his best game of the series, making 49 saves.
Game 7: Peterborough 13, Langley 9
This was the first Mann Cup game seven since 2009 and only the 11th overall since 1950 – a rare and special event. It was everything you could want from a deciding game, coming down to the last period. The Lakers led 7-5 after the first period after a huge offensive outburst, despite missing Shawn Evans. Langley took a brief 9-8 lead in the second but Cory Vitarelli tied the game 9-9 with 1:14 left in the period. In the third, Matt Vinc and the defence held the Thunder scoreless while the Lakers scored four times. Thomas Hoggarth scored the game winning goal 2:07 into the final frame.
Curtis Dickson was awarded the Mike Kelley Memorial Award as the series’ MVP. The last time a member of the losing team won the MVP award was in 1988. Dickson led the Thunder with 18 goals and 24 assists.
Holden Cattoni and Dane Dobbie led the tournament in scoring with 20 goals and 23 assists each. Shawn Evans (30 pts), Mark Matthews (29 pts) and Joe Resetarits (25 pts) also had strong performances for the Lakers, while Robert Church (31 pts) and Connor Robinson (29 pts) were leaders for Langley.
As the Mann Cup was presented to Robert Hope, Shawn Evans, Kiel Matisz and Paul Dawson, Hope and Evans lifted it quickly, and then passed it to all the first timers, who were such a big part of the Lakers success this season – Jay Thorimbert, Alex Pace, Austin Hasen, Taite Cattoni, Mitch Ogilvie and Blake McDonald – before the rest of the veterans took their turns getting reacquainted with the Cup.
It was a special win for many of the Lakers, including assistant coach Bobby Keast – it’s his ninth title as a coach. Head coach Mike Hasen shared the win with his son, Austin, a rookie.