In selecting the top major/senior lacrosse team in Ontario over the years I look at teams that had extended runs at the Mann Cup. From those teams I selected the one team that essentially epitomized that group of players that obviously had changed over the run. Those teams that were able to put a string of championships together usually had a core of players that were with them throughout.
The first team, in my opinion is the 1954 Peterborough Trailermen. This team was the fourth consecutive team to win a Mann Cup. The four teams had a number of imports from other Ontario teams starting with the 1951 team. By 1954 there were seven Peterborough trained players on the team. Two, Bob Allan and Bob Curtis had just graduated from the local junior team.
Eleven of the players on the 1954 team, including Allan and Curtis, were later elected to the Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame. The 1954 Ontario senior league had four teams. The Trailermen ended up in first place and won the league final over St. Catharines in four straight games.
In the final league scoring, five of the top ten scorers were from the Trailermen; Harry Wipper (2), Denny Peterson (3), Russ Slater (4), Allan (6), and Curtis (8).
In the Mann Cup final, the first ever played in Peterborough, Peterborough beat the Victoria Shamrocks in five games. Peterborough played out of the outdoor Miller Bowl in 1954. 4000 fans were packed into the bleachers for game one. Early in the second quarter, with the Shamrocks leading 4-3, the rains came, postponing the game. Victoria won the replay, their only win. After more rain delays, the series was moved to the small indoor Civic Arena where the Trailermen won the series. Moon Wootton was the MVP of the series.
The second team I have chosen is the 1973 Peterborough Lakers. The unique feature of the Laker team was that other than one player, the entire roster was Peterborough trained players. In that era, winning teams usually loaded up on import players. The CLA even allowed teams to pick up extra players for the Mann Cup series.
Also this team was the last Peterborough entry in the Ontario senior league until 1978. The National Lacrosse League professional league opening in 1974 and ran for two years. Practically all the Lakers played in that league. When the league disbanding in 1975, the OLA banned all former OLA players who played in the pro league from the Ontario senior league.
In 1973, the Lakers ended the regular season in second place behind Brantford. In the Ontario final they beat the Warriors in six games. The Mann Cup final in 1973 was a one-game affair played in Brantford. The Lakers beat the Vancouver Burrards 9-5 to win the Mann Cup. Pat Baker was the MVP.
The third team I selected is the 1987 Brooklin Redmen. The Redmen had a successful run at championships from 1985 to 1991 winning Mann Cups in 1985, 87, 88 and 90.
The Redmen of 1987 won the Ontario league championship with a record of 20 wins and no defeats. Derek Keenan, their leading scorer, led the OLA with 107 points. In a round-robin playoff that season they were 4-0. Gil Nieuwendyk and John Fusco were also top-ten scorers.
The Redmen defeated the New Westminster Salmonbellies in seven games for the Mann Cup championship. Eric Cowieson of the Salmonbellies was the MVP of the series winning the Mike Kelley Memorial Award.
The fourth team I selected was the 1996 Six Nations Chiefs. The Chiefs had a run of three successive Mann Cup victories from 1994 to 1996. In 1996 the Chiefs won the OLA league championship with 35 points in the 24-game schedule. John Tavares was their leading scorer with 140 points. Troy Cordingley, Duey Jacobs and Darris Kilgour with top-ten scorers also. They defeated Peterborough and Brampton in the playoffs. The Chiefs defeated Victoria in four straight games for the Mann Cup. John Tavares was the Mike Kelley Award winner.
The fifth team I have chosen is the 2019 Peterborough Lakers. The two-time Mann Cup winners were forced to play the 2019 season in the smaller Evinrude Centre. The city decided to replace the floor and boards in the Memorial Centre over the summer of 2019.
The 2019 Lakers had an equal mix of locally trained players and imports. They finished the season with fourteen wins in the eighteen-game schedule. After winning the Ontario title over Six Nations they headed west for their third successive Mann Cup final. Playing in the iconic Queens Park Arena in New Westminster, they lost the first game to the Salmonbellies, then won the next four for the Canadian title. Goalie Mike Poulin was the MVP.
The 2020 and 2021 MSL season were cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic. This season the 2022 Lakers are hoping to match the 1951-54 former Peterborough team by winning their fourth successive Mann Cup title.