The Maple Ridge Burrards won their first-ever WLA championship and their first trip to the Mann Cup on Friday night, when they beat the Victoria Shamrocks 10-9 in Game 6 of their best-of-seven series.
In front of a packed Cam Neely Arena, the Burrards earned their first-ever appearance in the Mann Cup Canadian lacrosse championship, when they dethroned last year’s champions. The Shamrocks were also the WLA champions for three straight years.
For first-year head coach Rob Williams, the WLA coach of the year, the feeling is “Unbelievable.”
“We just kept believing in the process. This group of guys is special,” he said.
All year the team has had the motto “What’s next,” to move on from mistakes and be mentally tough.
There were teary-eyed people around the celebrating players, from trainers to fans to volunteers.
“This group is a family, I think that’s part of it,” said the coach. “Guys like Aaron Davis and Kevin Reid – these guys have been around forever.”
“It’s only taken 13 or 14 years to get here,” said Reid, who is a key player in the defensive end for the Burrards.
This was a complete team, he said. He called Frank Scigliano “hands down the best goalie I’ve ever played with,” and said the team is stocked with quality players.
“We’re deep. It’s more depth, especially offensively. The defence is always going to be shut-down, but this year our offence is firing on all cylinders. We could put the ball in the net when we needed to, ” said Reid.
“We’re an exciting team to watch.”
Mike Mallory and Ben McIntosh led the Burrards offence with five points each on Friday night, Mallory with three goals and two assists, and McIntosh with a goal and four assists. Riley Loewen had a pair of each for four points, and Dan Taylor had a goal and three assists.
Team captain Davis is a veteran of 11 seasons with the Burrards.
“It feels great. It’s been a lot of years, a lot of hours, and a lot of sacrifice for the players, the staff and everyone’s family, and it’s well worth it right now,” he said.
Davis said he knew at the start of the season that the 2016 Burrards could finally break through.
“I knew we had the bodies for it. The past few years we’ve come a long way. We’ve been drafting well, made a few good trades and we’ve just become a closer-knit team,” he said.
“We were definitely knocking on the door the past few years, and it all came together.”
Now the Burrards will be heading to Ontario to take on the Major Series Lacrosse champions in a best-of-seven series that starts on Sept. 9.
Williams said the Burrards will have a good shot at winning the Mann Cup.
“A shift at a time, and What’s next – I think we can compete with anyone.”