It's the old guard versus the new kids on the block, but that is just one of many story lines for the 2016 Mann Cup.
The annual best of seven Canadian senior lacrosse championship features the best lacrosse players in the world. This year it sees the Six Nations Chiefs looking to claim their third title in four years facing off against the Maple Ridge Burrards, who haven't been to the Mann Cup since 1990.
Legendary player John Tavares, who will go into the National Lacrosse League Hall of Fame in a few weeks, is now coaching the offence for the Chiefs. When the Burrards made their last Mann Cup appearance 26 years ago, he was a rookie for the team that at that time played out of Vancouver.
While the Chiefs have become Mann Cup regulars, they faced the toughest challenge in years to claim Ontario's Major Series Lacrosse crown. The regular season was the most competitive in years, with fourth teams battling for first place until the final week. Six Nations overcame several injuries to key players to down the Brooklin Redmen in the semifinals.
Their opponent in the championship series for the third straight year was the Peterborough Lakers, who finished first in the regular season but had to fight hard to beat the Oakville Rock in the semis. The Lakers then enjoyed a perfect start to the MSL finals, winning three straight games to all but assure themselves of a return to the Mann Cup that they lost to the Victoria Shamrocks a year ago.
Cody Jamieson, wearing a heavy brace to protect a knee that will require surgery once the season is done and that will likely keep him out of the Mann Cup, made a surprising and heroic return in Game 4. With his appearance on the floor, the Chiefs turned the tide and ran the table, stunning the Lakers by taking the last four games of the series.
Meanwhile, the Burrards were shaking things up on the West Coast. Considered the bad boys of the Western Lacrosse Association, Maple Ridge was placed on a good conduct bond and threatened with expulsion from the league if they incurred any suspensions for late-game fighting in the last two-thirds of the season or playoffs.
The Burrards banded together and took out the two teams who have dominated the league over the last decade, beating first the New Westminster Salmonbellies then the reigning Mann Cup champion Victoria Shamrocks to win the west.
Maple Ridge will arrive in Six Nations as decided underdogs because they don't boast players with the name recognition the Chiefs do. Of course, the Six Nations players have earned their recognition. Now the Burrards believe it's their time to do the same. On the biggest stage in the sport, Maple Ridge and Six Nations will clash in what is certain to be an intense and physical series. The winner will earn the Mann Cup and with it bragging rights as the best team in Canada.
All games at 8 pm at the Iroquois Lacrosse Arena
Friday Sept 9
Saturday Sept 10
Monday Sept 12
Tuesday Sept 13
Wednesday Sept 14*
Friday Sept 16*
Saturday Sept 17*