Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Mann Cup is a family affair

Zack Porter checks Brier Jonathan in the background while Dan Dawson tangles with DJ Saari. (Photo: Tim Prothero)

by Stephen Stamp

The 2016 Mann Cup features a sibling rivalry, although not the kind the term usually denotes.

Each team has a pair of brother acts taking part, so in this case it is a case of siblings banding together against other siblings.

Dan Dawson is leading the series in scoring with 19 points through three games, moving him into fifth in all-time Mann Cup points and leaving him just 10 behind Colin Doyle for fourth. Paul Dawson is a defender for the Chiefs who has played a key role in Six Nations limiting the Maple Ridge Burrards to 28 goals through the first three games.

Six Nations' other pair of brothers are both helping boost the Chiefs offence. Austin Staats has garnered plenty of attention for his clutch scoring and exuberant celebrations, as well as his propensity for getting knocked down but getting back up again. Austin rolled his ankle, separated his shoulder twice and generally seemed to be sprawled on the floor through much of the MSL finals against Peterborough. He returned every time, though, to help fill the gap left by injuries to a trio of Chiefs lefty forwards.

Austin Staats lays the lumber on Zack Porter. (Photo: Tim Prothero)
He's kept on rolling in the Mann Cup, scoring 6 goals including the overtime winner Monday night, and adding a pair of assists. And he's done all that despite being just 18 years old and having three years of junior lacrosse left before he becomes a full-time Chief.

Austin isn't the only Staats brother shining in the series, though. Older brother Randy is the IL Indoor National Lacrosse League rookie of the year and the favourite to be presented the NLL's official top rookie award at the league's ceremony at the end of the month. He is also outscoring his little brother 10-8, having notched 3 goals and added 7 assists.

The Burrards also have a brother duo who help out at both ends of the floor and one that ply their trade in the same zone. Aaron Davis is Maple Ridge's captain and one of their defensive leaders. He's been a key cog in steering the Burrards ship through the perilous waters that were their 2016 season.

Jarrett Davis is another of the team's leaders, an alternate captain who has won the past two Champions Cups with the NLL's Rush, giving the team some championship experience. Jarrett has scored 3 goals and 5 assists in the Mann Cup.

Colton Porter greets Austin Staats in the Burrards' end. (Photo: Tim Prothero)
The other Burrards brothers are easily noticeable in this series. They're buzzing about the floor as transition players who continually get in the faces of Chiefs' forwards. Well, the Porters are in their opponents faces figuratively if not literally.

Zack Porter is listed at 5'7". His brother Colton is taller, though at 5'8" he's still one of the smallest players on the floor. None the less, both brothers play a fearless brand of lacrosse up and down the floor. Zack Porter confronting the 6'5" Paul Dawson at the end of Game 1 is one of the 2016 Mann Cup's iconic moments.

As if the brother acts weren't enough, there are the Smith cousins playing for Six Nations as well. Dhane is the younger cousin and scoring star who set the NLL records for most goals and points in a season last winter after leading MSL in scoring a year ago. He missed most of the regular season this year with plantar fasciitis but is back to his high-scoring ways, sitting third in points in the series.

Older cousin Billy Dee Smith missed most of the regular season, as well, after having minor surgery to clear up a lingering issue at the end of the NLL season. He was out for the first two games of the Mann with a calf strain suffered in the MSL finals but his impact was readily visible in Game 3. He's a menacing presence for the Chiefs as well as an intelligent and experienced defender.

So is that it? What about Creighton Reid and Kevin Reid, defenders for Maple Ridge? Aren't they related? "Probably if you go back far enough," quipped Burrards head coach Rob Williams. So no, we won't count the Reids in this story of family affairs in the 2016 Mann Cup.

That hardly leaves us with a shortage, though. As is so often the case, family is a familiar theme in the game of lacrosse.