The Maple Ridge Burrards were eliminated from the Mann Cup on Wednesday night, losing the best-of-seven national lacrosse championship series to the dynastic Six Nations Chiefs.
It is the third Mann Cup in the past four years for the Chiefs, and they won it in five games.
And they wound up the tournament in style, convincingly winning 14-6 against a a Burrards team that had looked like they belonged there.
“ I know they’re down now. It’ll be a while before they can feel positive about what we accomplished this year,” said GM Daren Fridge.
“But we were golden in B.C. We won the west, and we beat two good teams to get there,” he said.
The Chiefs won the first game 15-8, but the Burrards evened the series 13-9 in game two. The Chiefs then came out on top in two close 9-7 games – one in overtime and the other effectively a one-goal game with an empty netter.
“Games three and four could have gone either way,” said Fridge, adding that knotting the series at 2-2 could have made a big difference to his team’s confidence, and their approach the rest of the way.
“I’m really proud of these guys. This is the farthest we’ve gone in 40 years,” said Fridge, noting that the Vancouver Burrards won the Mann Cup in 1977.
“When you get that close you want it all. But you can see the difference in their experience and our experience.”
The series was billed as the old guard against the new kids on the block
He was complimentary of the Chiefs, noting that their roster is laden with National Lacrosse League veterans – former MVPs and scoring champs – and spiced with impressive toughness.
Dhane Smith won the scoring title in the NLL this year, and their roster included three other players who were in the top 10. Aside from those, they were led in playoff scoring by Dan Dawson’s 30 points.
He said they might be the best team he has seen at the Senior A level.
“You would be hard pressed to find another team like that. There’s lots of NLL players on both ends of the floor. Victoria’s power play is talented, but this (the Chiefs) takes it up another step.”
Ben McIntosh, an up-and-coming star in the NLL, led the Burrards with 11 goals and 21 points in the Mann Cup. Fridge said he was a leader, and scored big goals.
Dan Taylor had 18 points on three goals and 15 assists.
A silver lining to the tournament was the interest shown in young Burrards players by NLL teams. Luke Gillespie in particular, after a three-goal effort in the Burrards only win.
He was drafted by the Edmonton Rush, but two teams in the East are interested in Gillespie.
“He’s beating NLL defenders to the net and scoring goals,” said Fridge.
Gillespie, who is from Maple Ridge, finished the tournament with six goals and 10 points in four games.
Fridge said the team had grown from the club that was threatened with expulsion from the WLA, and dubbed the “Burrard Street Bullies.”
“We play tough because it’s a tough game. We’re a great blend of grinders, goalscorers and workers,” said Fridge, adding that the team has the most depth at all positions it has ever had.
“And the part we’re proudest about, is we’ve been built through the draft.”