Cham­pion Lak­ers fu­elled by lo­cal lacrosse tal­ent

The Peterborough Examiner - - >>OPINION -

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.

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