It’s playoff time and Six Nations lacrosse teams are lining up for the hardware. No other community of this size could possibly boast the number of legitimate contenders for a national title than Six Nations, who have four.
But just because a team is from Six Nations doesn’t mean it is unbeatable, and that is the mantra spoken in most opposition dressing rooms.
The following are my observations and predictions for the 2014 Playoff Season here at Six Nations, beginning with the defending Mann Cup champs, Major Series Sr. ‘A’ Six Nations Chiefs.
OLA MAJOR SERIES SN CHIEFS – The 2013 Chiefs were much more ready to go after the Mann Cup at this time last year than they are now. But they have the talent and the Championship experience to repeat last year’s Mann Cup performance. They have shown flashes of last year’s team, but consistency is lacking in the 2014 season to date. Yes, their lineup was weakened for a few weeks of the FIL World Lacrosse Tournament while their top players performed with the Iroquois Nationals in Denver, bringing back the Bronze. But the Chiefs fared pretty well during that time as they called upon the well of talent from the Sr. B Rivermen, as well as the Jr. A Arrows and Jr. B Rebels. But once they got their regulars back, the Chiefs were only able to muster a fourth place finish with a wins average of .500. Good enough to make the playoffs, but they leave a lot of room for improvement.
Seeing Brooklin right off the top will be a deciding factor as to how much is in the Chiefs tank. I would have to consider the Chiefs this year’s dark horse team. Getting past Brooklin will be hard enough, but once teams from the West get into the picture, it will take all hands on deck to get any further than that. A Mann Cup win will have to be earned on blood, sweat and tears and not talent alone.
OLA Sr. A SN RIVERMEN – Like the Chiefs, the Sr. B Six Nations Rivermen are festooned with talent and experience, but to date, have not shown the killer instinct of a champion. Finishing in third place in a seven-team league with a very respectable 11-5 record, the Rivermen were, without doubt, the third best team this regular season. Playoff efforts from the entire bench will be needed to take down the James Gang who boasted a 14-2 record and finished in first place.
Captain Cory Bomberry knows what it takes to win, and what kind of leadership will be needed in the post-season climax series. Delby Powless and Wayne VanEvery will need more help up front and Warren Hill and Brennor Jacobs will have to remain focused to take down the Gang. The biggest challenge on this team is going to be discipline, or lack thereof. The James Gang has given the Rivermen fits this regular season and they represent the one team that could knock off a Six Nations Cup contender. However, the Rivermen have been perfect through the playoffs to date. Dates for the Rivermen/James Gang series have yet to be announced, but I believe the Rivermen have to tools to take the franchise’s first Presidents Cup.
OLA JR. A SN ARROWS EXPRESS – The Arrows are beatable, but usually it isn’t the opposition who beats them. It is themselves when they get unfocused, as seen in the Peterborough series which went six games.
Nothing short of a miracle Tuesday night will stop the Arrows Express from rolling over the Whitby Warriors in four straight. They have had Whitby’s number so far and lead the Warriors three games to none with what could be the League Championship title Tuesday night in Whitby. Results will miss deadline, but if Whitby can pull off a win, Game #5 will be at the ILA Thursday Aug. 7, at 8 pm. This Arrows team has a legitimate shot at the Minto since they have shown their ability to bounce back and seem to improve as a team every game out, and they have not even peaked yet. If the Arrows can stay out of the box, they will win Game 4 and be a real contender for the Minto Cup they last held in 2007. This is a very talented team with a solid tandem of Don Alton and Doug Jamieson to back it up.
OLA JR. B SIX NATIONS REBELS – If there is a Six Nations team that is expected to take the National Title, it would have to be the Six Nations Rebels. They have outclassed and outplayed virtually all opponents again this season, winning their second perfect 20-0 season and breezing past the Generals 3-0 in Round #1, Niagara 3-0 in the Quarter Finals, and 3-1 against Orangeville to get to the final series against cross Conference champs, the Halton Hills Bulldogs who ended the regular season tied for first with a 16-4-0 record, but have an identical 9-1 record as the Rebels in the post season. Rather than feeling pressure, the Rebels seem to be having fun so far this post season, and a solid opponent like the Bulldogs could bring even more out of the Rebels who, with a series win, will shoot for their record fourth Founders Cup in a row. My money is on the Rebels to go all the way.