Chiefs re­built to chal­lenge ‘hun­grier’ Lak­ers

Los­ing 2017 MSL fi­nal sparked need for change as Six Na­tions trans­formed its ros­ter to take an­other shot at Mann Cup

The Peterborough Examiner - - Sports - MIKE DAVIES Ex­am­iner Sports Direc­tor [email protected]­ter­bor­ough­daily.com

Six Na­tions Chiefs GM Duane Ja­cobs knew he had to make some changes af­ter his team lost in the 2017 MSL fi­nal to the Peter­bor­ough Cen­tury 21 Lak­ers.

A num­ber of play­ers who helped the Chiefs win three Mann Cup ti­tles in four years were start­ing to get long in the tooth. A younger and quicker Lak­ers team ran the Chiefs off the floor in five games.

A big off-sea­son trade with Oakville marked a change in course and net­ted sprinter Ian Mackay. The in­flux of young tal­ent like goalie Doug Jamieson, Bren­dan Bomberry and Tyson Bomberry and the use of ju­nior stand­outs such as Austin Staats and Te­hoka Nan­ti­coke helped change the face of the team.

Then big trades to ac­quire Lyle Thomp­son, Shayne Jack­son and Chris Cloutier helped the Chiefs, who missed the fi­nal for the first time in seven years in 2018, make it back this year against Peter­bor­ough.

The two teams are dead­locked at 2-2 head­ing into Game 5 Tues­day at 8 p.m. at the Ev­in­rude Cen­tre. Game 6 is Thurs­day in

Six Na­tions. If nec­es­sary, Game 7 is Sept. 2 in Peter­bor­ough.

“It goes back to 2015 and that se­ries we won,” said Ja­cobs. “I was think­ing about mak­ing some changes af­ter that sea­son, but when you win the Mann Cup you want to stick with those guys who won. In 2017, it didn’t work out and we had to get younger.

“We had a big team back then and those guys got older and big guys weren’t read­ily avail­able. So we went out and got some of the best ath­letes we could.”

He felt Peter­bor­ough was younger, faster and hun­grier in 2017.

“As an or­ga­ni­za­tion, we want to win just like Peter­bor­ough and ev­ery team,” Ja­cobs said. “The guys we brought in last year to start the change and the guys we’ve brought in this year have re­ally gelled to­gether. We’re play­ing a dif­fer­ent style and that’s the style I see ev­ery­body go­ing to sooner or later.”

A sea­son-end­ing in­jury to Staats in the NLL and an in­jury to an­other lefty the Chiefs thought was com­ing from B.C. forced Ja­cobs to go af­ter Jack­son and Cloutier to shore up the left side.

Lyle Thomp­son, one of the NLL’s pre­mier scor­ers, was per­haps the big­gest ad­di­tion.

It’s been a bit of an arm’s race with Peter­bor­ough who added Mark Mathews, Joe Re­se­tar­its, Kiel Matisz and Mike Poulin in trades.

“We watch what other teams do,” Ja­cobs said. “We’d been try­ing to get Lyle for a cou­ple of years and were fi­nally able to do it this year. He’s such a great ath­lete. He can play both ends of the floor and has such tremen­dous quick­ness. He’s got all the of­fen­sive skill and is ar­guably the best lacrosse player out there. He does a lot of ev­ery­thing for us.

Not just the scor­ing part. He does the lit­tle things like loose balls. He’s been a ma­jor con­trib­u­tor for us.”

The Chiefs have eight play­ers with pro field lacrosse com­mit­ments, so they never had a full lineup in the reg­u­lar sea­son.

“We had 18 reg­u­lar sea­son games and had 18 dif­fer­ent line­ups. We were able to come to­gether. I knew we had a good team. I didn’t re­ally know how good we could be and we still don’t.”

Locker-room chem­istry is a big part of suc­cess, Ja­cobs said, and it seems like this group has it.

“The locker room is re­ally good,” said Ja­cobs.

This is the sixth time in eight years the Lak­ers and Chiefs have met in the MSL fi­nal. Each team has three cham­pi­onships in the past six years. It’s be­come lacrosse’s big­gest ri­valry.

“We’ve had some bat­tles over the years and it’s re­ally seemed to pick up over the last decade,” said Ja­cobs. “It’s good for the fans to see some re­ally good lacrosse. Hope­fully, we can con­tinue for a few more years.”

CLIF­FORD SKARSTEDT/EX­AM­INER

Lyle Thomp­son, seen pres­sur­ing the Lak­ers’ Brock Soren­son on Aug. 18, is one of the new faces lead­ing a re­vamped Six Na­tions Chiefs in the 2019 Ma­jor Se­ries Lacrosse Fi­nal against the Peter­bor­ough Cen­tury 21 Lak­ers. The best-of-seven se­ries is dead­locked 2-2 and con­tin­ues Tues­day, at 8 p.m. at the Ev­in­rude Cen­tre.

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