Recent Mann Cup winning teams have generally been loaded with experience. That won't be the case this year. Only four players on each team have played in Mann Cups before, so there are plenty of guys experiencing the Canadian championship for the first time. One of the Six Nations Chiefs veterans, 3-time Mann winner Colin Doyle, says it's actually refreshing having a bunch of young and even not so young players who are getting their first taste of the Mann.
“I think there's only one way to gain experience” Doyle said. “At one point 10 years ago those Peterborough and Brampton [teams that have won 8 of the last 9 Mann Cups between them] didn't have much experience either. That's the way it goes. You've got to get into these to get experience. I'm hoping that the guys don't know any better, they just go out and play. There's something that you gain in experience from having been on a Mann Cup on the road, that's for certain. I think we'll help out along the way. But the idea is you just learn as you go and play like you have been all year. The experience will come with the games you play.”
The team left Ontario early Wednesday morning for the flight to Vancouver, where it was met by a bus that took the group across to Vancouver Island on BC Ferries. The players enjoyed the buffet on board, including some tasty salmon, then went above decks to enjoy the view as the ferry made its way through the Gulf Islands.
Upon arrival at the Bear Mountain Arena where the series will be played, they walked around the floor, got a feel for the building and discussed some strategy. They didn't have any kind of practice planned for the day, but since they had gotten on an earlier-than-expected ferry and had a couple of hours till they could check into their hotel, the players managed to scrounge up some balls to throw around. Eventually, someone found a custodian to turn on the lights, goalie Brenner Jacobs put on his gear and the players started shooting.
From the moment they hit the floor, the Chiefs looked like a bunch of kids who hadn't gotten to play for a while. “That's a pretty exciting thing about this group,” Doyle said. “I can't actually remember a team just so eager to get out and play lacrosse. I think everyone's just excited to get this thing going. We've had quite a layoff now and guys just want to play. We had a lot of fun doing that this summer and the guys are looking forward to doing that on the big stage here. You'll probably see a lot of that this week, the guys just coming out and playing around; that's what they do.”
Coming from a bit more staid environment, Doyle says he finds it “Certainly a little different than I'm used to, coming from Brampton and playing with a lot of Orangeville guys. It's definitely a different vibe.” He's got not worries about the team taking it seriously when it's time. “When it comes time to play they're so focused and ready to play...it's just a mentality leading up to it. It's a breath of fresh air for me, it's quite a joy. I'm looking forward to spending the 10 days out here with these guys.”
Things get underway with a press conference at the team's hotel Thursday at noon Pacific Time, then the series kicks off Friday night at 7 pm PT (10pm ET) with Game 1. All the games can be seen via live pay per view webcast. To purchase games, go to this link.