Peterborough wins historic fourth straight national senior A lacrosse championship
PETERBOROUGH-When Anna Taylor watches the Peterborough Lakers play lacrosse – she is a self-confessed nervous wreck. Several times during Saturday’s Game 7 of the Mann Cup Canadian Senior A Lacrosse Championship she had to turn her back to the action in an effort to calm herself down. By late in the third period, however, she was able to watch and her blood pressure had returned to normal. That is because the hometown Lakers were well on their way to victory over Langley, B.C. and their milestone fourth straight Mann Cup title.
Taylor is the social media coordinator for the Lakers as well as the statistician. She sits or often stands and paces nervously from a press box high above the Memorial Centre floor.
“It’s been a stressful week but I absolutely love this. This is the sixth Mann Cup I’ve been involved with. I live and die with this team in part because lacrosse has given me a purpose. I grew up mostly interested in the arts but then I discovered hockey and fell in love with other sports like lacrosse. This sport has given me so many opportunities,” Taylor said. “I love Peterborough. When you look around the arena there is so much passion here from these fans and these players.”
Taylor said her duties with the team have increased every year she has been with the club. She added she went to school for public relations and that turned into an internship with the Toronto Rock of the National Lacrosse League.
But Taylor added that her heart belongs to the Peterborough Lakers.
“The Mann Cup is the absolute pinnacle of lacrosse not just here in Canada but around the world. The way that these guys prepare all season – they sacrifice their bodies, they sacrifice time with their families in the summer to play this sport because they love it. You can see it in the way the fans respond. The entire week has been incredible,” Taylor said. “Getting to know people from the other team makes my lacrosse world that much bigger.”
One of those people from the Langley Thunder who Taylor got to meet up close and personally during Mann Cup week is Gary Ahuja, the communications and media person for the B.C. champions. He shared A booth for the week with Taylor. It is relatively rare for the teams to not have their own media booth but in this case, due to a shortage of space in the press area, Ahuja and Taylor had to co-exist, just feet apart in the media booth. They both said they were able to put their partisanship aside, for the most part, and enjoyed a strong professional relationship in the booth.
“The Mann Cup has been a great experience. I’ve been very busy between games but it’s been great to experience lacrosse in the lacrosse hotbed which is Peterborough. It’s definitely lived up to its reputation from a fan experience standpoint,” Ahuja said.
He added that despite the Game 7 loss he was very impressed with the way the Thunder had played on the road in front of thousands of fans who were cheering against them.
“You look at the rosters and they are littered with NLL players. Some of these guys have played with and against each other before so there is a mutual respect. When the temperature cools on the floor, many of these players on Langley and Peterborough are friends,” Ahuja said. “It’s a fantastic lacrosse environment this week and everyone should take the opportunity to watch a game in Peterborough.”
Both Taylor and Ahuja said that it might be a little out of the ordinary to share a booth with a representative from the opposing team but that the experience of doing that had been fantastic.
Kawartha 411 ran into two fans who were having a celebratory beverage in Sticks Sports Pub across the street from the Memorial Centre.
“I’ve been watching Peterborough lacrosse since the 1960s,” said Brenda McAdam who was there with her friend Doreen O’Connor. “This was really something to see the Lakers win their fourth straight Mann Cup. Stressful, but really exciting.”
It was quite a series with Langley taking the first two games of the best of seven series. Peterborough then stormed back with three straight wins. The Thunder won Game 6 to force a seventh and deciding game. In that game, the Lakers led 7-3 in the first period. But Langley tied in at 9-9 after two periods. Peterborough outscored Langley 4-0 in the final frame to come away with the victory. Not since the Peterborough teams of the 1950s had a team that won four straight Mann Cups. The Lakers did it in front of a jubilant, rambunctious sellout crowd of just under 4,000 fans.