The only thing better than winning one championship is winning two! And the Peterborough Century 21 Lakers did just that with Tuesday night’s 11-8 win over the Maple Ridge Burrards to reclaim their Mann Cup with four straight wins over the WLA champions. It was the first Mann Cup sweep since 2008 when the Brampton Excelsiors took out the New Westminster Salmonbellies. This was the Lakers 16th title.
The Lakers were defending champions after defeating the Salmonbellies in 2017. It was a special group that won last year and that was determined all season to hoist the Cup in front of their hometown fans. They’ve now won back-to-back titles and will go for the three-peat next season.
“Doing it in BC last year for my first Cup was amazing but being at home in front of this crowd is pretty crazy,” said assistant captain Kyle Buchanan. “When time ran out at the end of the game there I don’t know if I’ve heard this place so loud. It’s pretty amazing and exciting to do it with this group of guys.”
There were a very loud, energetic, and wonderful 3736 fans in attendance.
Scores from games two and three made it appear that after tough playoff series against Brooklin and Oakville, the Mann Cup was a little easier for the Lakers, but they’ll tell you that’s not so.
“If you look at just the names, McIntosh, Dickson and their whole right side, that’s top 10 or top 5 guys in the league…” defenseman Ian Llord said. “You gotta be paying attention to them every single play. You’re not going to shut them down. You just have to contain them. Those guys are awesome and we’re not robots.”
Buchanan said it was about executing the Lakers’ own game plan.
“They’re scrappy on defense and we know their guns on offense,” he said. “I think we focused on our game plan and shut down their key guys. We were able to execute offensively. We have so many weapons up there. It wasn’t easy for them to shut one guy down and we executed when we needed to.”
Indeed, game one was only won by the Lakers in double overtime. In game four, the Burrards pushed back hard as they tried to extend the series. Curtis Dickson scored a pair of goals to tie the game at five in the second period. The Lakers led 7-6 after that middle frame, but Jean-Luc Chetner scored on a delayed penalty to tie the game at seven just 1:35 into the third period.
But from there, the Lakers caught fire. Holden Cattoni ran off the bench at 4:55 to put an overhand shot past Frankie Scigliano from the top of the circle. Adam Jones’ overhand shot from the left 15 seconds later was the game winner. Cattoni added insurance at 7:46 with a long shot. Owen Barker got one back for the Burrards on transition at 10:38.
The Lakers effectively killed off a late Burrards’ power play. They gave up one shot 15 seconds in and then held possession for the rest of the penalty kill.
Buchanan, especially, was great on the penalty kill, gobbling up loose balls. The second-year Laker is a fan favourite for his ability to be everywhere the ball is.
“Peterborough’s an amazing place to play,” Buchanan said. “It’s an easy way to get up every Thursday for a game. I’m excited about this group. We’ve got some veteran guys but we’re young as well and we’re going to enjoy this and then get ready to go for next year.”
Captain Robert Hope, as he did in 2017, sealed the win with an empty net goal. This year’s was a bit more impressive as he scored from behind his own net, launching the ball 200 feet into Maple Ridge’s yawning cage.
“Words can’t describe this one,” Hope said. “To be able to do it at home in front of friends and family. It’s been a dream come true watching so many people win it here… We worked so hard all year, sacrificed this, that and the other. We’re happy to have the Mann Cup stay here.”
Shawn Evans was named the Mike Kelley award winner as the series’ MVP. It was Evans’ third win. Other players have won three times, but Evans is the only player to win them all with the same team.
What’s impressive about the Lakers’ two wins is the unity within the team. Every player on the team deserves an MVP award. Everyone plays their role and contributes whatever is needed. Evans and Buchanan led the way offensively in the series, both tying the record for assists in a Mann Cup game (eight), but Cory Vitarelli led with nine goals. Adam Jones and Holden Cattoni were dangerous on the left side. The Lakers wouldn’t have won game one without Thomas Hoggarth’s timely goals. Corey Small’s two goals in game four gave the Lakers an early advantage.
The defense doesn’t get as much love as the offense because when they do their job right they do it quietly, but players like Hope, Llord, Brock Sorensen and Bryce Sweeting deserve praise for shutting down the Burrards’ offense. Zach Currier’s knack for loose balls and penalty killing made the crowd roar. Matt Vinc had an almost-unheard of one-goal game.
Jake Withers, another fan favourite, deserves recognition for his ability to adjust his game on the fly. Fans got wise to Withers’ skills in the faceoff circle earlier this season and now applaud every time he wins a draw that gives the Lakers possession.
But CLA rules differ from MSL rules so he had to quickly change how he won those draws. It didn’t matter; he still won 74% of the time.
“[Zack Porter and Travis Irving] are good competitors,” Withers acknowledged his Burrards’ competition. “I think our wing guys really helped me out this whole series and got the job done. Each and every faceoff is a battle and I got beat up pretty good in the X there. But Hopey, Zach, Bucky, Hoggy and Jonesy the odd time out there made my life a lot easier.”
Every player not mentioned individually contributed in more than one way, too, but that would make for an extremely long article.
Of course, the team is made up of more than just the players. Llord made sure to mention those behind the scenes, as well, as he thanked the team’s coaches, trainers and equipment staff.
“It makes you realize how lucky and fortunate you are to win especially playing against guys that good. It just means that our depth was awesome and that goes to everybody on the Peterborough staff and our GM Paul Day.”