The dynamic duo of Dan Dawson and Anthony Cosmo proved too much for the Langley Thunder.
Dawson, the Brampton Excelsiors captain and leading scorer, and Cosmo, the team’s goaltender, missed game one of the Mann Cup championships last week because of work commitments back east, as a firefighter and teacher, respectively.
In their absence, the Thunder took full advantage, posting an 11-3 victory.
But the duo showed up at the Langley Events Centre in time for game two and the Excelsiors were a whole new team, winning four straight to capture their 11th Mann Cup senior A Canadian lacrosse championship. It was also the Excelsiors’ third title in the past four years and Ontario teams have now won eight of the last 10 Mann Cups.
Brampton won game two 9-4 and then took control of the series with a pair of one-goal victories on the weekend, 8-7 and 5-4.
They iced the series on Monday, scoring the game’s final three goals to win 6-3.
In two of the final three games, Langley led in the third period.
“The challenge to any team is to contain Dan Dawson and get (Anthony) Cosmo off his game,” said Thunder coach Rod Jensen.
Dawson finished with four goals and 10 assists, while Cosmo posted an .878 save percentage and was named most valuable player of the Mann Cup.
In the end, Jensen said it was the Excelsiors defence which really surprised him in how effective they were in keeping the Thunder attack to the outside and limiting their penetration.
“It wasn’t for a lack of effort, it was just a lack of execution,” the coach said. “(We) just didn’t get the job done.”
The players, many of whom were teary-eyed, were forced to watch Brampton celebrate on the Thunder’s home floor.
“They were pretty down, which is a great sign,” Jensen said, noting that there is always a worry when an underdog team makes it this far, they may get complacent.
“All credit to (Langley), they gave us everything we could handle,” Cosmo said, adding that Thunder goaltender Brodie MacDonald played “amazing.”
“This team is going to be a threat over the next couple of years.”
Excelsiors coach Mike Hasen knew his team was in for a battle.
“They never stopped, that is one thing we knew coming in here, they were going to work the entire time and they did,” he said.
Gary AHUJA/Langley Times
Constant defensive harassment from the Brampton Excelsiors kept Langley Thunder leading scorer Athan Iannucci (centre) off the scoresheet in game 5.
Both teams were seeded third in their respective divisions, Langley in the Western
Lacrosse Association and Brampton in Ontario’s Major Series Lacrosse, and upset the top seeds to advance to the Mann Cup.
The Excelsiors especially had a tough road considering they began the season with just a dozen players.
“The determination and never-quit attitude,” Hasen said about what stood out for him. “Everybody counted us out but we just knew the character in this room would come through.”
“We just had belief,” Cosmo added. “We have been through so many ups and downs, we have always stayed even-keel and know we are a championship organization.”