Meet the Teams: Your Guide to the 2018 President’s Cup in Nanaimo
In just a few days the first whistles will sound, opening up the 2018 President’s Cup championship tournament. The Nanaimo Senior B Timbermen have done an outstanding job in preparing and promoting the games, and every box lacrosse fan should be over the moon excited for these games to kick off.
All summer long, these men have battled in regional leagues in Canada to find out who will reign victorious at home, as well as who will have the opportunity to head to Nanaimo to play for the highly coveted 2018 President’s Cup National Championship.
One of the most interesting caveats to Senior B lacrosse’s championship is that you really don’t have much advance notice of who you’ll be seeing on the other bench. Tight competition in local leagues has led to extensive turnover from last year, with only 3 of the 8 teams returning from last year’s President’s Cup.
These seasons kick off in the Spring, and playoffs run deep into the summer. The Rocky Mountain Lacrosse League out of Alberta just crowned a champion last week, giving their champions 8 days to acquire tickets and make arrangements to get out to British Columbia.
The ‘B’ in Senior B is by no means a negative connotation or a downgrade from Senior A. These are completely different leagues with completely different representation, composition, and function. I’ve written about this before, but always find it important to stress how strong Senior B lacrosse is. You will see past, present and future NLL players comprising rosters. There will also be teachers and firefighters and students and guys you’ve never heard of comprising rosters. You literally never know what you’re going to get with Senior B lacrosse, the only guarantee in place is that you will get amazing box lacrosse when the best in the business get together for President’s Cup.
Eight teams will make up this tournament. Nanaimo will participate as the host team, plus the winners and representatives from each of the regional leagues. This article will serve to introduce the Eight teams, as well as a brief background as to how they got here and what we might expect from the teams as far as final placements.
2018 President’s Cup Teams
Nanaimo Sr B Timbermen (Host)
The Timbermen will come in to this tournament as the gracious hosts to Canada’s best teams, but that warm welcome will be put on hold for roughly 60 minutes at a time once daily. The Timbermen have had another excellent season in the West Coast Lacrosse League in British Columbia, winning the league with two overtime wins over perennial rival Ladner in the league finals. The 2018 President’s Cup will be the icing on the cake for the Timbermen, a team primarily comprised of local born-and-raised island lacrosse boys. Heavy firepower can be expected of the Timbermen, with some of the top scorers in the WCLL wearing red and white this week. Notable names include Jeff Shattler and Ryan Taylor, but the strength of the team lies with the sum of the parts.
Expect the Timbermen to be one of the most cohesive units that we’ll be seeing this week, with potential to make a run towards the only hardware that matters in the end. Personally, I wish the host team good luck on and off the floor, as organizing such an impressive event is no easy feat.
Onondaga Redhawks (Can-Am/FNLA)
The Onondaga Nation has a storied history in lacrosse, and that tradition and reputation is represented and solidified at President’s Cup. Onondaga has won the President’s Cup as recently as 2014 and 2010, with a four year interval that would indicate that the OAC is due for another banner in the rafters. The road to Nanaimo hasn’t been a pleasure cruise for the Redhawks, who came out as Can-Am Lacrosse Association champions only after winning over the Tuscarora Tomahawks in Game 6 in a best of 7 series. A solid core of Redhwaks has been together since they were in diapers, but more recently we’re seeing familiar names like Leroy and Kori Halftown, Adam Yee, and Lee Nanticoke. These names might be expected to do the heavy lifting for the Redhawks, but a solid team game will be Onondaga’s strength.
Good personal friends of mine Dan Rogers and the Arnold twins are also on the roster, and I’m excited to see the Onondaga Redhawks make a run towards a quadrennial tradition of President’s Cup victory.
Oakville Titans (OLA)
For the first time ever, the Senior B champions of Ontario live in Oakville. This refreshing injection of new blood winning in a league rich with traditional powerhouses is good for Ontario, good for Canada, and good for lacrosse. The Oakville boys have had to grind out these wins with an arduous playoff run that included knocking off the Brooklin Merchants and overcoming last year’s second-place President’s Cup team, the Six Nations Rivermen. The hard road through the OLA ended on August 11, but the uphill climb to P-Cup starts again in just a few days. Notable to the achievements of Oakville is Craig Wende, who has been fantastic in goal for Oakville – ending up averaging just 7.74 average goals against in one of the most offensively powered leagues.
Again we see a core team, with no player finishing the season with more than 12 goals himself. Ontario teams like to project a tradition of winning, and the onus will be on the Oakville Titans to perform in their inaugural debut against teams they’ve never seen before. I love it!
Capital Region Axemen (QSLL)
The Axemen of Ottawa come out of the Quebec league after eviscerating the competition. Only one loss during the season kept the Axemen from perfection – and that was to a team from a different league. The Quebec league is comprised of three teams, and the Axemen ran the table on both. Defeating Kahnawake in the finals meant dethroning the 2017 attendee to President’s Cup (who placed 4th if I’m not mistaken). The Axemen tote a heavy scoring offense, with five players over 30 points – led by Blake Kenny’s 74 points alone.
The Axemen will come into President’s Cup – a familiar tournament with familiar foes. The experienced team from Ottawa will be expected to put up a lot of goals, and might be a little fresher than some of these war-torn clubs who had rougher playoff paths.
Caughnawaga Indians (TNLL)
The Caughnawaga Indians make their return to President’s Cup after a roller coaster few years. The Indians of the Mohawk Nation had an interesting road to President’s Cup, but a late season push and some bizarre circumstances have resulted in an unlikely Three Nations Lacrosse League representative. As one might imagine, there are three total team in the TNLL, and this was a tightly contested league, with no clear better team. Caughnawaga defeated the Braves of St. Regis early in the season by a score of 9-8, while the later season match between the two went in favor of St. Regis. In similar fashion, the Snake Island Muskies beat Caughnawaga in the early season, but the Indians achieved redemption in the end to go to the finals. The Indians have the firepower to get it done on the island. Blaze Riorden, Vaughn Harris and Ty Thompson are a solid start with an excellent supporting cast.
The Indians won’t be the heavy favorite for a championship, but with some fiery leadership it would be unwise to count out the Caughnawaga Indians.
Fun fact Nanaimo’s home team the Nanaimo Luckies and the Caughnawaga Indians played for the President’s Cup in the finals of 1969, in which Nanaimo took home the gold. That wasn’t the only medal for Caughnawaga, the Indians took Bronze in 1976 and as recently as 2013!
St. Albert’s Miners (RMLL)
Alberta sends their two-time back to back President’s Cup Champions, the St. Albert’s Miners. Arguably the tallest team in the league, the Miners imposed their will on the 2017 President’s Cup, and will look to represent the Rocky Mountain Lacrosse League well in their attempts at a three-peat. The road to Nanaimo was not as complex or treacherous for the Miners of Alberta as in other leagues, but that does not discount the talent of this Canadian Champion. The Senior B Mounties gave everything against the Miners in regional playoffs, but the Miners are just on the next level from the rest of their league. Keegan Bal did the heavy lifting in 2017 in President’s Cup – and quite honestly I only know that because I was there. If stats exist for the RMLL, they don’t exist on the internet. Advantage: Miners, tough to scout against a team when you don’t know their names/numbers/if they exist.
Joking aside, the Miners do exist and are coming to BC, and while they might not admit it, I bet they bought a round trip ticket for the President’s Cup trophy in anticipation of bringing the coolest trophy in lacrosse home again.
Saskatoon Brewers (PGLL)
The Brew crew make their third straight President’s Cup appearance. The team representing the senior b league of Saskatchewan is riding the wave of lacrosse that the province is feeling. These seasoned veterans don’t have highlight reels or stints in the NLL to their names, they’re just hard-nosed guys from that place I can’t point to on a map. Somewhere in the middle. The Brewers won the Prairie Gold Lacrosse League after capping off wins over the Regina Heat and the Steelers of Saskatoon. The 8 teams in the league is indicative of growth in the region, and we look forward to seeing the brewers in Nanaimo. Notably, the Brewers will have Taylor Roach, Chris Sock, and Steven Toporowski, better known by Eastern Europeans as “the Spaghetti Man”.
Ladner Pioneers (WCLL)
Last but certainly not least is the team representing the home league, the Ladner Pioneers. Ladner has a winning tradition in one of lacrosse’s toughest leagues, and success at this prestigious tournament so close to home is within Ladner’s grasp. What must have been an outstanding series to watch, Ladner fell just short of the West Coast Lacrosse League Championship. Game one saw a Ladner win, but two consecutive overtime losses to the host team awarded the trophy to Nanaimo. As the host team is automatically in, the WCLL still gets a representing team, and so by making it to the finals, Ladner punched their ticket across the bay to go play for the cup. Ladner was present at the 2017 President’s Cup as well, and familiar faces from that tournament will likely be back for another run at the President’s Cup in 2018.
Opening games and ceremonies will kick off on Sunday. An awesome ceremonious welcome in collaboration with the Snunymuxw people of the First Nations will officially kick things off and set the tone for this brilliant celebration of our sport.
Be sure to follow along, and watch as much FREE box lacrosse on our YouTube channel, Twitter, and Facebook as your girlfriend (fictional or otherwise) will tolerate. Find more info on the games HERE, and enjoy!