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Mann Cup 2016 Six Nations Chiefs Maple Ridge Burrards Photo: Darryl Smart

Chiefs Hoist Sixth Mann Cup – 55 Must See Photos + Recap

After Wednesday night’s victory, the Six Nations Chiefs have now claimed three of the last four Mann Cup titles, six overall.

If you did not catch the JVI Sports Network live stream of the 2016 Mann Cup, you really did miss out. The video quality was superb, the guys calling the games did a great job (well done Stamper and PattyG!), and oh yeah, the play on the floor was PHENOMENAL!

The best of seven series featured the WLA Champions, Maple Ridge Burrards, on the road at the MSL Champions, Six Nations Chiefs. With the series alternating from Canadian coast to coast each year, after last year’s event in Victoria, the Chiefs were granted the right to host the series, after winning the Major Series Lacrosse finals over the Peterborough Lakers.

Although four Mann Cups have been credited to the Burrards, they had never been to the finals under their current banner, and had been without an appearance since 1990, when the Vancouver Burrards dropped their series to the Brooklin Redmen. After Wednesday night’s victory, the Chiefs have now claimed three of the last four titles, and six overall.

Mann Cup Schedule
Game 1: Six Nations 15, Maple Ridge 8
Game 2: Six Nations 9, Maple Ridge 13
Game 3: Six Nations 9, Maple Ridge 7 OT
Game 4: Six Nations 9, Maple Ridge 7
Game 5: Six Nations 14, Maple Ridge 6

The Burrards came into Ontario with a bumpy landing, literally.

Their flight tried to land multiple times in Toronto before being diverted to Hamilton for grounding. The delays, on top of the lengthy journey, didn’t add up to much for their first game in the historic Iroquois Lacrosse Arena at Six Nations. The visitors bounced back in the second game and played with a chip on their shoulder for all 60 minutes, pulling off their first and only win of the Mann Cup.

Game 3 took overtime to decide as a back-and-forth slugfest resulted in a lock at just 7 goals at the end of regulation. A pair of daggers were sunk by the home team and the series moved into another tight battle, where the Burrards were actually leading heading through the 3rd period until a three goal run by the Chiefs stole the show in the last 6 minutes, including an empty-netter to come within one game from winning it all.

The do or die game 5 was expected to bring out a fire in the Burrards that could translate into a forced Game 6, but a lackluster performance, along with less than cool heads resulted in the series only blowout. Six Nations held their opponents at a 10 goal differential until Maple Ridge netted the last two scores, followed by the Chiefs’ raising their sixth Mann Cup in front of roaring support from fans, friends, and family.

That’s the skinny on all five games, but there were some important story lines accompanying the series that deserve some extra attention.

Living Legend, Dan Dawson

Mann Cup 2016 Six Nations Chiefs Maple Ridge Burrards Photo: Darryl Smart
Photo: Darryl Smart

8 goals and 22 assists totaled a hefty 30 points across 5 games for the humble giant, Dan Dawson. The series-leading performance undisputedly earned Dawson the Mike Kelley Award, given to the Mann Cup’s MVP. The 7 points he put together in the series-winner put Dawson fourth on the all-time Mann Cup scoring list with 139 points, right above Colin Doyle’s 137. That’s 139 points IN THE MANN CUP alone. Woah.

The accomplishment puts him right behind three of the greatest lacrosse players of all-time: Geordie Dean, 161 points all with New Westminster, winning in ’89, ’89 and ’91; John Grant Jr. collected 174 Mann Cup points in his Sr. career from 1994-2016, primarily with Peterborough; and John Tavares amounted for a staggering 203 points from 1989-2012 with 8 different clubs. Still, to top the records of Tavares, Dawson would have the repeat the performance another two times and then find a way to put together another 5 points. It sounds impossible until you remember that Tavares played his last summer at 44, Junior looks to be hanging it up at 41, and Dawson is just 34 and going strong.

The reason that this is such a cool stat is that it’s not just about stats. You also have to play in the Mann Cup to be on the list. The more times you play for one, the more chances you have to score points. So it’s kind of tracking the best players, but only in the biggest games. It’s really cool, and a major accomplishment in any legend’s career.

It was mentioned on Twitter during the series by an account in the States claiming “Dan Dawson was the best lacrosse player you probably never heard of.” That’s sadly true on this side of the border for one of the classiest and most dominant players in the game, although he’s been in the NLL since 2002, served as captain to Team Canada and has accomplished more on the floor and field than many of us could imagine.

If you want to learn more about box lacrosse, or just want to act like you care about it, watch Dan Dawson, be Dan Dawson. KNOW Dan Dawson. It’s for your own good.

Sask Street Bullies

Although they left Six Nations with the Cup, 2016 hasn’t been particularly bad to a core group of the Burrard Street Bullies. When the dust settled, the four names at the top of the Maple Ridge scoring list all happened to be members of the 2016 NLL Championship-winning Saskatchewan Rush. Ben McIntosh led the charge, racking up 21 points from 10 goals and 11 assists over the five games. Dan Taylor wasn’t far behind, but his 18 points were heavily bolstered by 15 helpers. Lefty Riley Loewen and righty Jarrett Davis mirrored each other, both putting up 5 goals and 7 assists through the series.

Mann Cup 2016 Six Nations Chiefs Maple Ridge Burrards Photo: Darryl Smart
Photo: Darryl Smart

All but Taylor were also members of the 2015 NLL Championship squad and with a whole slew of draft picks in Saskatchewan’s future, the core of the team is going to be hard to break apart. Having a young star like McIntosh paired with the leadership of Davis all summer is great for the Rush, but even better when you can tie in another two youngsters, Loewen and Taylor, that have proven they can put the ball in the net and hold their own on a floor littered with all-stars.

Staats, Staats…STAATS!

The 2016 NLL Rookie of the Year, Randy Staats, did not disappoint in the Chiefs’ run for the Mann Cup. Second only to Dan Dawson, Randy finished the final series with 8 goals and 13 assists against the Burrards. Although still young himself, it was special to watch him share the spotlight with his brother, Austin, as he stepped into a major role for the team right away. The two share an incredible skillset including the ability to get inside and finish, shoot from the outside, break down defenders one on one, orchestrate magic in the two man game… the list goes on!

But honestly, it’s the off-ball and post-whistle stuff that I love, and where Austin is starting to make a name for himself too. The kid is butting heads with everyone already and stayed under the skin of the Burrards’ defense through the series and was potentially the trigger of Kevin Reid’s escalation at the end of Game 5. He causes trouble and backs it up. And as Stamper will tell you, “this kid loves scoring goals!”

It was just weeks ago that Austin was playing for the Arrows in pursuit of their third-straight Minto Cup before they fell to the Orangeville Northmen. With his schedule left vacant, the Chiefs yanked the young buck up to Sr. A for the playoffs, where he played 10 games and finished third on the points lists with 10 goals and 14 assists in his first real crack at playing with the best in the world.

If you’re reading this and you’re like, cool, big deal! Remember, the kid turned 18 just a few weeks before the 2016 MSL season kicked off. He is an 18 year old man-child (we won’t call him a kid anymore) that hadn’t even taken a step on campus at OCC before starting to rack up serious numbers against/with some of the NLL’s greatest products. In the 11 Jr. A games he dressed for the Six Nations Arrows this season, Austin put together an incredible 26 goals and 32 assists in the playoffs alone, landing his 58 points as the second highest in Ontario. That’s on top of his 126 points from the regular season!

Another stat that pops out from his Jr. season – he led all 25 names on the points list in PIM with 76 in the season, 34 in the playoffs. This man-child not only puts up insane numbers offensively, he’s one of the greasiest (and I mean that in a GREAT way) players to shine like this since, well, his brother! Austin’s 9 PIM in the Mann Cup could have easily been more, but the refs let us enjoy a physical and chippy series, and he was second overall in penalties, only to big brother Randy’s 28 minutes, which ironically ALL came in the Game 2 loss.

We’re likely to have four more years until we will see Austin’s hat thrown into the NLL Draft ring (assuming he keeps on the college route), so get used to watching him light up the scoreboard at OCC and in the MSL while he continues to develop. Did I just say continues to develop? Dear Creator, that’s scary. As for Randy, we will get to see him back in action on January 7th when his Georgia Swarm play host to the defending champions, the Saskatchewan Rush.

Pros vs Not Pros?

Mann Cup 2016 Six Nations Chiefs Maple Ridge Burrards Photo: Darryl Smart
Photo: Darryl Smart

Only four members of the Mann Cup roster for the Six Nations Chiefs aren’t on current NLL rosters. Three of those names will be in the NLL Draft hunt later this month, defenseman Leo Stouros, forward Vaughn Harris, and goaltender Dougie Jamieson, Jamieson renouncing his eligibility to enter after two years at OCC. The other, Staats, as I mentioned is only 18 and we are likely a cool four years away from seeing him go in the first round.

Among the young guns, we see a an extremely deep group currently dominating in the NLL including: finalist for Rookie of the Year, Randy Staats; finalist for Goaltender of the Year, Dillon Ward; shoo-in for MVP, Dhane Smith; two previous MVPs, Dan Dawson and Cody Jamieson; two former Defenseman of the Year winners, Billy Dee Smith and Brodie Merrill; three Rookie of the Year recipients, Brodie Merrill, Craig Point and Ryan Benesch; and two-time Transition Player of the Year, Brodie Merrill. Along with the award winners, eleven others are currently running with various NLL teams.

Mann Cup 2016 Six Nations Chiefs Maple Ridge Burrards Photo: Darryl Smart
Photo: Darryl Smart

In contrast, only the four Rush forwards, Roughnecks’ goaltender Frankie Scigliano and the Mammoth’s Mike Mallory are currently actively completing in the NLL. A handful of others like Luke Gillespie and Connor Goodwin have been drafted or made their way onto practice rosters, but not much further. The ability to put together a WLA winning team that could put up a fight in the Mann Cup to a team dominated by NLL lacrosse legends speaks volumes for what the Fridge family has been able to accomplish through years of dedication to the club. The two groups were polar-opposite from top to bottom, that’s what really made the series for me.

Rules, Rules, Rules

I noticed a lot of complaining about the set of rules that the Mann Cup is played under, which is absolutely nothing new. Unfortunately, with the way some of them are written, teams are able to find ways to really kill the flow of the game in order to catch a breather or bring on new legs.

Facing off – Throughout the series, but early on in particular, both teams had troubling getting used to the CLA mechanics for facing-off. No jams, nothing forward, nothing fancy, just sweep the ball out and move on. If you’re not familiar with the mechanic,

Rule 43 (d) of the CLA Box Rulebook, “The Referee shale place the ball on the floor between the players’ sticks. Play shall start with a whistle. The two players are then permitted to gain possession of the ball by a straight draw backwards, but shall not touch their opponent’s stick or the netter portion of their own stick with their hand…

Note: Draw motion must continue until both stick clear the face-off dot.

This is one rule I don’t hate, it just could be called a little looser. This rules makes sure that these things don’t happen. I like big, clean hits, but I also like player safety.

Reaching into the crease – In box lacrosse, if the ball is loose in the crease, it’s the goalie’s. These guys end up in really awkward situations and fighting for a loose ball should be the least of their worries.

Rule 38 (b) “If a player touches a loose ball or interferes with an opposing player’s/goalkeeper’s stick in his/her opposing team’s crease, possession shall be awarded to the non-offending team.”

There are a few situations that it can get a little stale. As it is, the rule also allows goalies another way to buy a few extra seconds to get a change or whatever they need. If they don’t gain possession, there’s no new offensive count. We saw Dillon Ward purposefully not pick a ball up for seconds after a save to kill some time, until a Burrard had to reach in and touch the ball to receive a whistle. Only a violation would force Ward to restart the play immediately under chance of Delay of Game as its currently written.

Weird no-clock, guys waiting near at restraining line – So it’s not so much of a good or bad rule, but kind of a weird situation to some that kept popping up in the Mann Cup.

Rule 68 (a) “If, while short-handed, a team’s goalkeeper or the substitute player for the goalkeeper enters the attacking zone, the Offensive Timekeeper shall start the thirty-second clock and the thirty second rule shall remain in effect for that possession.”

While killing a penalty, this allowed the goalies to cruise up to the boards on the short-change whenever the offense had the ball for a chat and some water, as long as they weren’t in any pressure of losing possession. The way the Six Nations arena is laid out, the penalty box is just steps from the sub area. A sub can hop on and wait at the restraining line, keeping the shot clock off but serving as a safety pass, if needed. As soon as a penalty expires, the guy at the midline steps in to run the offense with a full 30-second clock, the player in the penalty box can jump into the substitution area and the goalie can just stroll back to his crease recharged. I still think there should be a shot clock, even if you’re killing a penalty. Without it, some flow of the game can die off, but there’s nothing stopping the defense from pressuring out to stop it. Teams can easily get burned on the whole situation, but having that extra set of legs waiting at the midline is huge for helping to bail out a guy getting into trouble.

No over and back – The only thing forcing the hand of the offense is the 30 second shot clock, and while it’s on, a team can essentially carry the ball backward to wherever they want. If a team is killing off a penalty, the ball can’t leave the attacking zone except on a deflection off the defense, goalie or pipes. I love this, not let’s just add the midline as a restriction at all times. Can we get this going please, in the name of speed? If these games were on concrete on wood, they would be even slower with all of the mop stops.

Goalie pads – There were some discrepancies on goalie pads and as we heard from Stephen Stamp during Game 5 after Dillon Ward was called for a full equipment check by Maple Ridge, allegedly the Burrards were informed that Ward’s helmet was illegal (and we all remember the Mann Cup goalie fiasco of 2014) so they called him on it, refs ok’d it, Ridge went down for 2 minutes for a Delay of Game because of the failed check. This isn’t so much of a rules debate, I’m just letting you know that it happened.

Who Else?

There were a few other guys catching my eye through the week worth noting. Burrards’ defenseman Zack Porter is easy to overlook before a game, only standing at 5’6”, he doesn’t come off as an immediately intimidating, that is until the first whistle. The guy lives to get under the offense’s skin and will not back down from any man, regardless of size. As the Game 1 blowout was winding down, we saw Porter giving shots at 6’5” Paul Dawson, looking to make a statement, and keeping the attitude up until the waning minutes of Game 5. He’s fast, gritty and seemed to in good shape. If the stats are correct, his overly aggressive style only carried the weight of 6 PIM for the entire Mann Cup. Pretty solid.

Both starting net-minders played Mann Cup quality lacrosse for all but a few minutes of the entire Mann Cup. Again, if we can trust Poinstreak, the Chiefs’ main man Dillon Ward put together 121 saves against 162 shots, rounding out a .746 save percentage. Burrards’ backbone Frankie Scigliano only allowed 55 goals to pass through against a barrage of 228 shots on goal, landing him not far off Ward’s tail with a .758 save percentage. Scigliano needs to ride that momentum into the NLL season with rising star Christian Del Bianco on his heels, but I expect both of these goaltenders to give the West a run for its money in 2017.

I also want to point out that the series was really given the attention it deserved from the broadcast team, led by play-by-play legend Stephen Stamp, color-man Pat Gregoire and reporter Sam McDaid. It was an absolute privilege to watch the entire Mann Cup for free via Ontario-based JVI Sports Network and their sponsors, and especially when it was accompanied by great insight and analysis, sideline interviews and quality graphics. Now, if we could only get more of this!

Next Up: 55 Must-See Photos from the Mann Cup

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