You may remember a few weeks back when I wrote my first piece on the Mann Cup Rankings. I mentioned how it wasn’t very likely for Mark Matthews to be playing box this summer – turns out I was wrong.
The Langley Thunder finally acquired the rights to Matthews from the Brooklin Redmen, after what I can only assume was a long and painful process. But why stop there? The Thunder also acquired the rights to Adam Jones and Jeremy Nobel. Owner Rob Buchan took out all the stops to load up the Thunder for the second half of the season.
Matthews was the NLL’s 2013 Rookie of the Year. Jones? The NLL’s 2012 Rookie of the Year. Jeremy Nobel is expected to be one of the top picks in this year’s upcoming draft. Now Langley has three new superstars to add to their already explosive roster. This deal is going to make the rest of the season very interesting – buy Langley stock and Thunder Up.
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Other notable news this week…
As of June 27th, Six Nations took down Peterborough on a 10-point night from Cody Jameison. John Grant Jr. played for his second game this summer and made a 4-point home debut for the Lakers. Kyle Sorensen also found his way back into a Peterborough jersey for the first time this summer. The Lakers are trying to boost their back door as they are looking to contend for first place in the MSL. Only four points separate Peterborough, Six Nations, and Brooklin.
On the other side of the Great White North, the WLA race is anyone’s game – only a few wins separate the seven teams. It seems that even the best teams are losing and the worst teams are stealing wins. The standings keep shifting around, I can’t keep track and its beginning to make my head spin. It does make for great lacrosse though!
1) Six Nations Chiefs (MSL 8-1-1)
Chiefs just took down Peterborough to remain atop of the MSL standings. Chiefs have been garnering wins not just from their offense, but their defense – which is the best in the MSL. Led by the veteran Sid Smith and Evan Kirk between the pipes, the Chiefs are looking good heading into the second half of the season. Obviously, the offensive weapons are still there in Jamieson, Vyse, Point, and Doyle. The Chiefs play a tough stretch up ahead facing Peterborough again in the near future. This will be a good test for the playoffs and if they make it to the Mann Cup finals, a good test for the WLA powerhouses.
2) Victoria Shamrocks (WLA 8-3)
Victoria still remains atop of the WLA, but dropped a game to Maple Ridge last weekend. They still are the powerhouse team in the West. Matt Vinc has stepped in between the pipes for the Shamrocks, but already dropped a game. Give him some time and he’ll mesh with the defense and you will see his save percentage get over the .800% mark.
3) Peterborough Lakers (MSL 8-4)
The reason why I’m placing the Lakers in this spot is because of their talent level and post season experience. Lakers won the Mann Cup last year, and the roster still has players with rings on their fingers. Championship experience is everything in lacrosse. Jordan MacIntosh, Mark Steenhuis, and Brad Self continue to dominate on both ends of the floor. John Grant Junior is most likely going to be playing the majority of remaining games depending on MLL commitments and camps. The Lakers are currently grappling with Six Nations for top spot in the MSL.
4) Maple Ridge Burrards (WLA 6-4)
Burrards are on a tear, strike that Curtis Dickson is on and tear and he just happens to be pulling around the rest of the squad with him. He has already amassed 70 points in just 10 games and has been the lynch-pin to the teams success so far this season. Maple Ridge’s special teams have been another huge key to success. The power play is cashing in on 50% of their opportunities – good for best in the league. Teams are trying different strategies to slow down Dickson, they newest one is to let Dickson get his points and just stop the rest of the team. Burnaby limited Dickson to 4 assists which resulted in a loss for the Burrards. Slow down Dickson = slow down for Burrards. Seems simple enough, but lets see if anymore teams can do it.
5) Langley Thunder (WLA 5-3-2)
As I mentioned above, Langley stocked up with some new acquisitions and if my financial adviser is as good as he says he is, you can expect immediate dividends from the trio. Matthews and Jones lined up on the left side is going to produce points no matter the defense or goaltender. They have the best defense in the WLA, and now their offense should shoot straight to the top. 4 points out of first place, Langley is going to be making a hard push for the top see in the playoffs. Again, playoff experience is everything, and Langley had a great post-season run last summer and you can expect them to make another one this season.
6) Brooklin Redmen (MSL 6-4-1)
Brooklin is a team that is flying under the radar with all of the attention going to Peterborough and Six Nations. They tied Six Nations two weeks ago, but then lost to Kitchner-Waterloo and Oakville. Most recently they dropped a two-goal contest to Peterborough. They have the best PK in the league and their offense is no slouch either. Shawn Williams is the team’s leading point scorer, but Gavin Prout has cooled off from his hot start, and hasn’t played since June 19th. If Brooklin can find their grove again they can be a contender for the Mann Cup, but they just have to get through Six Nations first.
7) New Westminster Salmonbellies (WLA 4-6-1)
I don’t want to give up on my Salmonbellies just yet. They have the potential to take home the Mann Cup but they haven’t been cashing in on their opportunities. They haven’t won since June 13th but I know they are going to be able to put some wins together and make a run towards the end of the season. Jordan McBride, Logan Schuss, and Keegan Bal are solid point-getters on offense. Ilija Gajic is also having a decent summer netting 20 points in just 7 contests. If New West can put it all together they have the potential to cause some damage in the playoffs.
The trade deadline for the WLA is upon us, so we could see some more moves shakedown this week. It will be exciting to see how Langley does with their new acquisitions. Follow me on Twitter for more lacrosse info, not just Mann Cup but also Senior “B” and Presidents Cup race as well – All the teams from the Can-Am to QSLL and more.