They won the Mann Cup, and that’s all that matters.
Those paying attention to the MSL all season probably thought the Chiefs would not repeat as champions due to their fourth place finish in the regular season. Much of the season featured a fluctuating lineup as team members split their time with other commitments, which included the World Field Lacrosse Championships in July. Not one player on the Chiefs suited up for every game in the 18 game schedule.
Their record was 9-9, but in this league, as long as you make the playoffs, you have an equal chance of competing for the Mann Cup. Nobody was surprised when the defending champs suddenly took out the number one Brooklin Redmen in five games.
Goaltending was once again the Chief’s strongest point. Brandon Miller and Evan Kirk repeated as winners of the Harry Lumley Memorial Trophy as the goaltending team which allowed the fewest goals in the regular season. In the playoffs, Miller backstopped the team to a first round win over the Redmen, while Evan Kirk played all but 40 minutes during the second round versus Peterborough. Miller was then named the Mike Kelly award as MVP during the Mann Cup.
On defense, the Chiefs missed Rory Smith for much of the season to a concussion, but Smith was a pillar of strength during the post-season. The other Smiths (no relation), Sid and Billy Dee, together with Rory, provided a strong core that will be giving other teams fits for many more seasons.
Offensively, Cody Jamieson led the charge, led the team in post season scoring, led the league in post season scoring, and was named the MSL playoff MVP. He continues to prove why he is one of the best players in the world. The Chiefs also picked up Jeff Shattler’s rights from the Brampton Excelsiors. Shattler played the last five seasons in the WLA for Victoria, and made an immediate impact on the Chiefs lineup, and may in fact have been the difference this season in beating the Shamrocks in the final. Shattler led the Chiefs in scoring in the regular season and was second to Jamison in the playoffs.
The Chiefs supporting offensive cast must be recognized as well as one of the strongest offence cores assembled in lacrosse. Rookies Randy Staats and Vaughn Harris had incredible seasons. Veterans Roger Vyse, Kasey Beirnes, Steven Keogh, and Craig Point were nearly unstoppable.
Johnny Powless, a call-up from the Jr. A Six Nations Arrows, played a few games in the playoffs and Mann Cup and showed Chiefs fans that their future will be just as exciting. Powless, already a star, was the first player to win a Minto Cup, Mann Cup, and NLL Champions Cup in the same calendar year.
Looking ahead to next year, the Chiefs would benefit from having a more stable lineup in the regular season. They made the playoffs but were in danger at points of not doing so. In terms of adding players, they really don’t need to. They are back to back Mann Cup Champions – there is no need to mess with what works, and the Chiefs are a truly great team from top to bottom.