It wasn’t without a lot of bumps and bruises but Major Series Lacrosse will send a champion to the Mann Cup for the first time since 2019.
With the Covid-19 pandemic raging, the Canadian Lacrosse Association opted to cancel the national championship in 2020 and 2021. This year the winner of the Western Lacrosse Association will be hosted by the winner of Ontario’s Major Series Lacrosse circuit.
In the MSL semifinals, the Peterborough Lakers got past the Brooklin Lacrosse Club 5-1, and the Six Nations Chiefs swept first time playoff contenders Cobourg Kodiaks in four games.
The league, normally boasting six teams, played with just four this season after controversy surrounding the ownership of Brampton/Owen Sound franchise stalled the beginning of the season. Eventually both groups relented and let the season continue without them while they work out their issues. Oakville then announced they would also be sitting out the season. There is hope the league will expand to seven teams in 2023. Commissioner Doug Luey also resigned earlier this season.
Six Nations finished in first place, three points ahead of Peterborough. Brooklin trailed the Lakers by a single point. Cobourg finished last with just two wins during the shortened 12-game season, but their standing wasn’t indicative of their play. They beat Six Nations twice in the regular season and took the Lakers to double overtime. Three of their four playoff games against the Chiefs were decided by a single goal. They lost in double overtime of the fourth game.
Peterborough defeated Brooklin in three games – yes, three. Though they took the series 4-1, they only won games 1, 4 and 5. Brooklin won game two on the floor, but an illegal coach protest by the Lakers resulted in the Ontario Lacrosse Association overturning the results and forcing Brooklin to forfeit. BLC assistant coach Gavin Prout was assessed an abuse of officials game misconduct towards the end of game one. That penalty comes with an automatic three-game suspension. Brooklin appealed the OLA’s decision but was unsuccessful.
The Lakers, three-time defending Mann Cup champs, seemed to struggle in the regular season with players in and out of the lineup, but they benefitted from the return of Joe Resetarits and Matt Vinc from injury in the playoffs. Brooklin continued their dominance from 2021’s MSL Classic, and with an average of about 22 years old, will be a danger for other teams in years to come.
The MSL Final is slated to start in Six Nations on Tuesday, August 16th, with Game 2 in Peterborough on Thursday, August 18th. This is the seventh consecutive year the Chiefs and Lakers have met in the Final, with Six Nations prevailing in 2014 and 2016 and then going on to win the Mann Cup. Peterborough won the MSL in 2015, 2017, 2018 and 2019, and also the Mann Cup from 17-19. Victoria won in 2015. Since 2003, the Lakers have been in the MSL Final every year except 2013.