For over 100 years, Canadian lacrosse teams have fought for the right to hoist the Mann Cup as Canada’s National Champion. Valued at $60,000, the Mann Cup is one of the most valuable trophies in all of sports. But for the teams in the Western Lacrosse Association (British Columbia) and Major Series Lacrosse (Ontario), the Mann Cup is about much more than an expensive trophy: it’s about pride and glory. Tonight, the battle for the most coveted prize in Canadian lacrosse begins in Langley, British Columbia.
The 2011 Mann Cup Finals didn’t necessarily shape up like many expected. The MSL Champion Brampton Excelsiors are no strangers to the Mann Cup Finals, having won nine times in 18 appearances, including back-to-back wins in 2008 and 2009.
The WLA representative however, is a different story. The Langley Thunder is a bit of a cinderella story as they finished third in the WLA standings during the regular season and ousted the top two teams in the playoffs to reach its first Mann Cup Finals. After a sweep of the Victoria Shamrocks in the semifinals, Langley disposed of the three-time defending WLA Champion New Westminster Salmonbellies in five games to win the WLA title. Not only will the Thunder be playing in its first Mann Cup, but it will play host for the seven-game series as well.
The Thunder features a pair of players on the Washington Stealth roster. Defenseman Mike Grimes, who is a staple in the Stealth lineup and one of the best defenders in the world, has been instrumental in Langley’s run to the Mann Cup. After leading the National Lacrosse League in points by a defenseman during the winter, continued his offensive output during the WLA season, posting 12 points (4g, 8a) in 11 regular season games and added a goal and four assists in five playoff games. Grimes was injured in game one of the WLA finals, missing the rest of the series, but is expected to return for the Mann Cup.
The other member of the Thunder that currently sits on the Stealth roster has yet to appear in a game for Washington. Left-handed forward Andrew Potter was signed as a free agent by the Stealth this offseason, due in large part to his performance during the WLA season in Langley. Potter tallied 50 points (23g, 27a) in 18 regular season games and has followed that up with 22 points (5g, 17a) in 10 playoff games.
Stealth fans can see Grimes and Potter in action with the Thunder as they face the Brampton Excelsiors in the Mann Cup Finals at the Langley Events Centre in Langley, B.C. starting tonight at 7:45pm. The games can be seen online at www.theboxrocks.com
. The series runs September 7, 8, 10, 11, 12*, 14* and 15* (* if necessary) at 7:45pm.