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President’s Cup 2018 – Semifinal Preview

The Presidents Cup tournament is Canada’s national championship for Senior ‘B’ box lacrosse. The national summer sport of Canada has been full-throttle since Sunday and continues to September 2, when a national champion will hoist the Presidents Cup. Follow along as we bring the games to you LIVE and FREE, as well as photos, videos and all the fun that surrounds this outstanding tradition.

We’ve advanced past the round-robin stage of this tournament with four teams remaining in the hunt for the prestige of being national champions of Canada’s summer sport.

Key wins and losses have made this tournament even more interesting, as NO team comes out of round robin unscathed physically or in the win/loss column. Winning seven games straight is feasible and you’d expect a top-tier team to be able to accomplish such a feat — in the regular season. This is back-to-back-to-back-to-back games with one day holding two games in store for each of the teams.

Tomorrow (Satuday) the action will be in full swing, and I’m going to lay out some personal observations and key factors to watch for as we continue to stream these games LIVE and FREE to the world!

With the St. Albert Miners winning last night over the Ladner Pioneers, a three-way tie was forced between the Oakville Titans, Nanaimo Timbermen, and the Caughnawaga Indians. The tournament logic was applied via goal differential and other criteria, and your 2018 President’s Cup Semifinal games are as follows:

St. Albert Miners (1) vs. Caughnawaga Indians (4)

This is the marquee matchup that many thought they were going to see in the gold medal game. Caughnawaga’s impressive showing early in the tournament peaked with a win over the Miners. However, the price of victory was obviously exhaustion as the Indians would go on to lose two games to end round-robin play. The Miners will have a rested Lachlan and Bal to test a formidable Indian defense led by Brandon Francis, Brett Bucktooth and Brandon Miller. Having one of the best goaltenders in the business is a great way to ensure victory — unless the opposition has one of the other best goaltenders in all of box lacrosse — Aaron Bold.

X-factors for Caughnawaga will be Jacob Ruest, Blaze Riorden, Ty Thompson and Vaughn Harris. Any one of them, or any combination of these all-star players having big nights could be problematic for the Miners. That said, the Miners haven’t won back to back Presidents Cups with fluke wins, and they know how to get it done in playoff ball. Keegan Bal and Richard Lachlan have been outstanding in collaboration with the Cornfields. Mike Triolo has been great in transition, and Patrick O’Meara does all the gritty work between the lines. This match is a race to who can get hot first. I believe the magic number is 12 goals.

Oakville Titans (2) vs. Nanaimo Timbermen (3)

The wizardry of numbers and tournament procedure have Oakville seeded over the Timbermen, despite a game yesterday in which the T-Men narrowly edged the Titans in overtime. All roads to gold have a team winning two games not just one, and I for one am excited to see this match played again. Keys to Oakville’s success were simple and difficult for the Timbermen to adjust to, and I believe those advantages might be just as (if not more) effective in this second meeting. Oakville is flat out younger. I’m completely guessing and speculating, but the average age of a Titan is 22-to-25 years-old, and I have to imagine that most of these seasoned Timbermen are 28-to-31. While that youthful speed is nice, the Timbermen median height and size is something that can’t be ignored. I don’t know what the length of a centimeter is, or how long a gram might be, but Nanaimo physically imposed their will on the Titans last time and I believe that will be a big part of how they attempt a repeat performance.

Tested veterans like Jeff Shatler, Corey Shires, and John Diplock will try their luck against goaltending wizard Craig Wende and his defense. On the other side of the floor, Brad Mazzocato will lead a defense in front of either Nick Patterson or Pete Dubenski – both of which who have played outstanding when they’ve gotten the call. Whichever goaltender stands between the pipes, he’ll see a barrage of shots from Cree Blakely – the young gun who seemingly cannot miss. The number of goals needed to win will be 9.

The last game of the round robin was determined by the final goal that came for St. Albert  in the last five minutes. The ENTIRE round robin came down to this last 5 minutes, and had Ladner won, we would have seen very different seedings going into the semifinals. This tournament is tough. There is no easy street. If I want to win, I need to go through you, and vice versa. It is fair. It is brutal. It is perfect. This is a testament to this tournament, these teams, and to the level of play in Senior B lacrosse throughout Canada and the First Nations.

Well done, gentlemen. Can’t wait for tomorrow!