It’s not surprising that there is still a battle for playoff positioning in Major Series Lacrosse heading into the final two weeks. What is a little surprising is where the remaining battle is shaping up. It looked like the Peterborough Lakers would push the Six Nations Chiefs for first, especially when the Lakers beat the Chiefs in Six Nations last week. But a loss to Brampton left Peterborough 5 points back and in tough to catch the front-runners. Last year’s first-place team, the Brooklin Redmen, looked like they had a shot at catching the Lakers for second. But then they lost to both of the top two teams last week and sit 5 points behind Peterborough with four games to play. No, where the race is shaping up is for third place, where the reeling and barely-above-.500 Redmen are just 2 points ahead of the surging Kitchener-Waterloo Kodiaks. KW won both its games last week to get within a long outlet pass of the Redmen and give themselves a chance to catch Brooklin this week.
1 (1) Six Nations Chiefs 13-2-1
Last week: L11-9 Peterborough, W10-3 Oakville, W11-5 Brooklin
This week: vs KW
The Chiefs would have loved to get the win over the Lakers, but solid efforts against Oakville and Brooklin have them in good position to grab the first overall seed that eluded them last year. Of course, because the league was split into divisions last year, Six Nations had home-floor advantage in the finals against Peterborough but couldn’t take the series, so not much has changed for the Chiefs. They are still a very good team that has yet to prove they can win an MSL championship. They’ll be itching to get the playoffs started so they can try to do so.
2 (2) Peterborough Lakers 11-5
Last week: W11-7 Brooklin, W11-9 Six Nations, L9-7 Brampton
This week: vs KW, @ KW
Lakers seasons tend to follow a pattern over the last several years. They struggle early in the year to find consistency because their lineup isn’t set until well into the summer and they tend to play complacently in some games. Their fans get a little panicky, but the leadership group continues to assure observers that they’ll be just fine. Then down the stretch they start to find their rhythm, play better lacrosse and put it all together in time to win when it counts. That approach has worked out pretty well for them, to the tune of five Mann Cups in nine years. And it’s the main reason Six Nations is feeling good but not too good about its chances when all the chips are on the table.
3 (3) Brooklin Redmen 8-7-1
Last week: L11-7 Peterborough, L11-5 Six Nations
This week: @ Brampton, @ Brampton, vs Oakville
It’s not quite time for the Redmen to panic, despite the hot breath of the Kodiaks they can feel on the back of their necks. Brooklin lost to the two teams above them in the standings last week while KW beat the two teams below them in the standings. Their adversaries are reversed this week, so chances are the Redmen will be able to grab at least a couple of wins and get a solid grip on third place. But Brampton and Oakville have shown they are no easy touches and Brooklin does have to be concerned about scoring only 12 points in their losses to Peterborough and Six Nations. It’s been 16 games now and the offence still hasn’t found its way.
4 (4) Kitchener-Waterloo Kodiaks 7-8-1
Last week: W10-7 Oakville, W12-10 Brampton
This week: @ Peterborough, vs Six Nations, vs Peterborough
It’ll be tough to pull off, but the Kodiaks have given themselves a chance to have the first winning season in the team’s history in Major Series Lacrosse. To do it, they’d have to win two of three games this week against the league’s leaders. But bear in mind—they have beaten the Lakers this year and have 1-goal losses to both Peterborough and Six Nations, so they’re capable of doing it.
5 (6) Brampton Excelsiors 4-12
Last week: W10-5 Oakville, W9-7 Peterborough, L12-10 KW
This week: vs Brooklin, vs Brooklin, @ Oakville
The Excelsiors doubled their win total for the season with a pair of victories last week. It’ll likely be too little, too late to salvage a playoff spot, but certainly suggests they are on the right track with the youth movement they’ve had to undertake this year.
6 (5) Oakville Rock 2-12-1
Last week: L10-5 Brampton, L10-7 KW, L10-3 Six Nations
This week: vs Brampton, @ Brooklin
The Rock brain trust knew it was going to be another year to take some lumps for this young team, but the early returns were so encouraging that they must be disappointed not to have squeezed out more than two wins so far. With the deals Oakville has made for the rights to players who’ll be returning to MSL from the west, this will be a very different team next year. It will still have a solid group of players from this season, though, and the last five games will continue their year-long audition to be part of the roster that promises to be increasingly competitive in the coming seasons.
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