For the fifth time in nine years, the Peterborough Lakers are Mann Cup champions. Peterborough downed the Langley Thunder 14-8 Saturday to take the series 4-2. For the second night in a row, the Major Series Lacrosse champs overcame a first-period deficit by running off a perfect second frame en route to the win. Peterborough trailed 5-3 after 20 minutes but blanked the Thunder 6-0 in the second. John Grant, Jr. led the way for the Lakers with four goals and two assists, giving him a series-leading 16 goals to go along with 14 assists.
Mike Thompson won the Mike Kelly Award as the Most Valuable Player. He stepped between the pipes early in Game 3 in relief of Tyler Carlson and reeled off four straight wins. Thompson was outstanding throughout the four games he played but especially in that second period. Langley directed 17 shots at him but he frustrated them repeatedly.
Thompson said it was a thrill to come back from a devastating knee injury last summer to finish off his career on top. He announced earlier in the summer that he is retiring from the National Lacrosse League and would be winding things up with Peterborough. “I was just happy to be able to step in when they needed me. I got on a bit of a roll and we really battled for each other.”
Langley led 5-3 after the first period. They scored the first three goals to jump out to an early lead. Shayne Jackson got things started then Kyle Belton, making his first start in the series, connected. Garrett Billings got the third before Grant ripped an outside shot on the power play. Grant scored on a similar shot with 20 seconds to play to pull the Lakers within a pair.
Andrew Watt made a beautiful end-to-end run to get the second-period roll started. Cory Vitarelli caught a pass in traffic on top of the crease and nestled a behind the back shot past Brodie MacDonald to tie the game. Scott Evansthen took over, scoring twice and setting up Mark Steenhuis with a perfect short pass across the crease. Jordan MacIntosh won a prolonged faceoff battle with Ian Poole to set up Brad Self for the final goal of the period and Peterborough entered the third with a 9-5 lead.
The Lakers never let off the gas. They scored the first two goals of the third and had a run of three straight later in the period to ice the game. Lakers’ newcomer Andrew Suitor said the fans were a huge part of the win, motioning to the 3,904 in attendance. “This is as much for them as it is for all of us. I feel honoured to be part of the Laker family. And at the other end, that’s a great Langley team. They’re going to be back here. They pushed us hard and we give them a ton of credit for their effort. They never gave up.”
Shawn Evans scored a goal and earned six assists in Game 6 to push him over 30 points for his second straight finals (7g, 24a, 31pts). That catapulted him from a tie for 50th in all-time Mann Cup scoring into a tie for 22nd with Todd Lorenz with 87 points. He wasn’t the only one moving up the career Mann scoring list. Grant passed Geordie Dean to take over second spot with 174 points. Scott Evans moved into fifth place, just two points behind Gary Gait. Lewis Ratcliff, who led Langley with a hat trick in Game 6, sits one point ahead of Shawn Evans.
Thunder captain Matt Leveque scored a pair of transition goals for a Western Lacrosse Association championship team that appears poised to challenge for a string of Mann Cups in the coming years. For now, though, the Lakers made it clear that while the future is bright for Langley the present belongs entirely to Peterborough.
Peterborough 14, Langley 8 (box score)Stamp is a TV sports announcer and lacrosse lover whose skill set made him a defender but who always dreamed of being a goal-scorer. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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