OHSWEKEN, ON (September 13, 2016) – The Six Nations Chiefs captured the historic Mann Cup, Canada’s Senior ‘A’ lacrosse national championship, for the third time in four years with a 14-6 win over the Maple Ridge Burrards in Game 5 of the best-of-seven series.
The Chiefs were able to breakthrough after a close first period, scoring five unanswered goals to open the second and pull away from the Burrards, building a 9-4 lead. They added another five in-a-row to start the third to cement their victory, and from that point on, they were just waiting for time to expire.
“We just stuck together as a team and rallied around each other and around our fans tonight,” said winning goaltender Dillon Ward. “We knew we were on the cusp and if we stuck with it we were going to be successful.”
It was a much closer series than many predicted, but the powerhouse Chiefs were the better team on both sides of the ball, showing why they’re on the brink of a championship dynasty. The Burrards proved they could play with them, but did not have an answer for their opponent’s offensive firepower.
“A lot of people say this is the hardest trophy in sports to win, and after this series I believe it,” said Six Nations forward Ryan Benesch, who finished the game with four goals and two assists.
The title capped off a tremendous season for Six Nations, who earned a birth in the Mann Cup after an improbable comeback in the Major Series Lacrosse (MSL) finals, winning four straight games against the Peterborough Lakers to become the first team in league history to overcome a 3-0 series deficit in the finals.
“We worked so hard to get here,” added Benesh. “We were down 3-0 in the Peterborough series and we clawed our way back, so there was no way we were going to let that go to waste.”
Their opponents from Maple Ridge, on the other hand, were making their first appearance at the event since 1990 after winning their first ever Western Lacrosse Association (WLA) championship, unseating the three-time defending champion Victoria Shamrocks.
“We knew Maple Ridge was going to be a good team,” stated Six Nations forward Dan Dawson. “You don’t get to the Mann Cup on a whim or because you get lucky, you get here for a reason. They’ve got a young and talented team that works hard and they gave us a heck of a series.”
The Chiefs were once again led offensively by the aforementioned Dawson, who scored two goals and added five assists in the game. With a series leading 30 points (8G, 22A) in five games, he was the clear choice for the Mike Kelley Memorial Trophy, awarded to the series MVP.
He also etched his name into the record books, as his seven point performance moved him into fourth place on the all-time Mann Cup scoring list with 139 points, passing Colin Doyle (137).
“I’m very flattered to be in the company of the guys on the top of that list,” said a humbled Dawson, “but it’s just a testament to the guys you surround yourself with and the coaches that put you in a position to be successful.”
“As an offensive player you need to produce, and assists and goals are a part of that, but for me it’s all about championships. When you’re done playing you want to be known for two things, being a great ambassador for the sport and being known as a winner and a champion.”
While it was a memorable event for Dawson, it was even more special for his teammate and 2013 Mann Cup MVP Cody Jamieson, who was in and out of the lineup due to a severe knee injury.
The Six Nations’ product made a heroic comeback in Game 4 of the MSL final, giving his team the emotional boost they needed to rattle off four straight wins. After missing the first two Mann Cup games, Jamieson suited up once again, sporting a large knee brace, and helped lead his team to victory.
His calming presence in the dressing room make him the indisputable emotional leader, but even on one leg he was able to contribute, finishing the series with a remarkable 14 points (6G, 8A) in three games.
It’s something Dawson was quick to praise, saying “You can’t measure the emotion that he brings, let alone his production on the floor. I know lacrosse is not mainstream, but his story needs to be told. He’s got no knee!”
Jamieson, not wanting to make it about himself, emphasized that he came back so that could help his teammates.
“I wanted to be out here helping the boys,” he said. “I tried sitting out the Mann Cup but it was just too tough to sit there and watch. All this hard work, all summer long, you grow to love the boys and you become a family.”
The concept of family has an even deeper meaning for a pair of hometown players, brothers Randy and Austin Staats, who despite their age, 24 and 18 respectively, were key offensive contributors for the Chiefs.
“It’s so unreal for me,” said Austin, delightedly. “I’m 18 and won my first championship with my brother.”
“It’s a special thing to do and I’m happy we got to do it together,” added Randy. “Hopefully there are more to come.”
This marks the sixth Mann Cup title for the Chiefs franchise, which was founded in 1993. They also won it all in 1994, 1995, 1996, 2013 and 2014.
- Mike Kelley Award (Series MVP)
- Dan Dawson (Six Nations)
- Players of the Game
- Rady Staats (Six Nations), Jarrett Davis (Maple Ridge)
- JVI Sports Network Three Stars
- 3rd Star: Dan Dawson, 2nd Star: Dillon Ward, 1st Star: Randy Staats