Champion Lakers fuelled by local lacrosse talent
The Peterborough Century 21 Lakers had another incredible run to this year’s Mann Cup and are once again the unquestioned kings of Canadian lacrosse.
Rival powers like Six Nations and Brooklin in Ontario and Victoria and New Westminster in B.C. might not agree, but at this point there really is no question about the “unquestioned” label.
These Lakers have won three straight Major Series national titles, the fourth team in 92 years to do the three-peat.
That’s just the current string. The Mann Cup will now reside in Peterborough for the eighth time in 16 years. How many teams in a national sport can match that record?
The North American list is very short: the Montreal Canadiens and Boston Celtics.
The storied Canadiens won 16 Stanley Cups in a 27-year span. The Celtics were NBA champs 12 times in 20 years, including an eight-for-10 run.
Could the Lakers match those records? Don’t put it past them.
Immediately after defeating the Victoria Shamrocks in a final series played entirely in Victoria — an all-road-game challenge professional teams never face — they were thinking four in a row.
GM Paul Day was clear during an interview when the team arrived home: “We’ll really enjoy this but we’re a very young group and we hope to have everyone back next year.”
Four straight Mann Cups. It has been done only once — not surprisingly, by another Peterborough team.
One difference between these Lakers and the Peterborough Timbermen/Trailermen of the early 1950s is that the current team is mostly local players. The T/T squad imported many of its stars, as was almost always the norm for dominant lacrosse teams.
Today’s Lakers are an exception. Eighteen of them played junior lacrosse here and most of those 18 came up through the local minor lacrosse program.
This is as true a local “club” team as Major Series lacrosse ever sees. And its biggest stars have been Peterborough born and bred.
That bedrock base of lacrosse talent suggests four in a row and nine of 16 won’t be the end; the Lakers could put together a multi-generational streak to rival Les Habitants and the Celtics.
Next year’s challenge will be eased by the alternating East/West playoff format. If the Lakers conquer Ontario, they will stay home and play for the Mann Cup in the Memorial Centre.
Yes, the Memorial Centre, the home that wasn’t home for 2019.
Remember the controversy? City officials were worried about an engineering report that the arena’s concrete floor was breaking down under the surface.
After a lot of back and forth — and a one-year delay that allowed the Lakers to win the 2018 Mann Cup at the Mem Centre — a $3.5 million repair and upgrade went ahead. The Lakers played their season in the much smaller Evinrude Centre.
City officials took a lot of heat for that decision from the Lakers and their fans. At one point, a team spokesperson issued a particularly dire warning about a “catastrophic” collapse of fan support that could take years to recover from. Others said the team might fold.
None of that came about. Something worth remembering the next time the sky seems to be falling.
But no need to dwell on that now. The Mann Cup is back home and the Lakers are deserving kings again.