The Six Nations Chiefs’ perfect record in the Mann Cup national lacrosse championship remains intact.
Since it was founded in 1993, the Chiefs, a Senior A men’s squad from the Six Nations of the Grand River in Ontario, has made seven appearances at the Canadian final and won the cup each and every time.
The Mann Cup is contested between the Major Series Lacrosse (MSL) champs from Ontario and the Western Lacrosse Association (WLA) champs from British Columbia.
The Chiefs captured their seventh title on Sept. 13. Six Nations defeated the host New Westminster Salmonbellies from British Columbia 11-9 in Game 5 of the best-of-seven series.
The Salmonbellies, who hosted all of the matches in the Mann Cup final at the Queen’s Park Arena in New Westminster, managed to register just one win, eking out an 11-10 decision in Game 4.
The Chiefs went all out this year spending some big bucks to bring in some players who they felt were capable of helping the squad capture the championship. Topping this list was Lyle Thompson, who is currently considered one of the world’s best lacrosse players.
Thompson, a member of Onondaga Nation in the state of New York, has been living in Six Nations for the past few years. He opted to suit up for the Chiefs this season instead of playing in the Premier Lacrosse League (PLL), a pro field lacrosse circuit based in the U.S. Thompson had been the PLL’s top points-getter in 2022 as a member of the Massachusetts-based Cannons Lacrosse Club.
It’s no secret the Chiefs’ brass had been frustrated that a league rival in the MSL, the Peterborough Lakers, had won four consecutive Mann Cup championships prior to this season. The Six Nations side advanced to the Mann Cup championship by sweeping Peterborough 4-0 in the best-of-seven MSL championship series.
The Chiefs brought in a number of elite-level players from across Canada and from south of the border to don the Six Nations jersey this season.
“Mission accomplished,” said Duane Jacobs, the Chiefs’ president, general manager and assistant coach. “That’s what we (try) to do every year. And this year we didn’t want to (take) anything for granted. Our team had a ton of depth.”
Jacobs has been involved in all seven of the Chiefs’ national titles.
For starters, he played for the Six Nations club when it won three consecutive Mann Cup championships from 1994 to 1996. And he’s held managerial/coaching roles for the team’s four other triumphs, in 2013, ’14, ’16 and this year.
The Chiefs’ depth was evident in the Mann Cup final this year as two of the team’s key players didn’t play a single game in New Westminster.
Austin Staats, who was selected as the MVP of the MSL playoffs after racking up 36 points, including an impressive 25 goals in nine matches, didn’t dress for any of the Chiefs’ games against the Salmonbellies due to a personal matter.
Key defender Liam LeClair didn’t suit up for a single game either for the Chiefs while they were in New Westminster. LeClair was back in Ontario attending to his medical school responsibilities. Jacobs said LeClair would have flown out to B.C. and played if Games 6 and 7 in the series were necessary.
Also, Staats’ older brother Randy, an assistant captain with the Chiefs, missed the last two games of the final because of an upper-body injury. Randy Staats racked up 14 points (four goals and 10 assists) in the three games that he did play.
“We didn’t miss a beat,” Jacobs said of the Chiefs, who continued their winning ways despite not having key members in their lineup. “We just showed how strong of a team this was.”
The host Salmonbellies had a much more difficult series in their WLA final.
New Westminster went the maximum seven games against the Langley Thunder before prevailing and earning the right to host this year’s Mann Cup series. The MSL and WLA champs host the national series in alternating years.
Chiefs’ captain Cody Jamieson was chosen as the MVP of the Mann Cup series as he compiled 22 points (eight goals and 14 assists) in five games.
Jamieson’s performances included six-point outings in both Game 4 and the series-clinching Game 5.
Chiefs’ head coach John Tavares has now won the Mann Cup nine times. This was his first title as a coach after winning eight as a player.
By Sam Laskaris, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Windspeaker.com, Windspeaker.com