The Victoria Shamrocks will be looking for a repeat of the 2015 Mann Cup victory as the team prepares to host the coveted championship series again at The Q Centre.
The lacrosse championship begins on Friday with the Shamrocks hosting the Peterborough Lakers after the Lakers defeated the Six Nations Chiefs, taking the Ontario title.
Four years ago the Shamrocks won the Mann Cup in six games over the Lakers but the Ontario team will be coming in strong, looking for a third Mann Cup win in a row.
But this could also be the third Mann Cup for Shamrocks head coach Bob Heyes.
“It’s really an electric time,” Heyes said. “There’s no better lacrosse players in the world.”
Heyes said the team went through a lot this year, starting off rocky in the season, but now that the team has established its lineup things have taken off.
“We had to build that belief and that trust,” Heyes said. “I think it’s been a process … we had a couple of bumps in the road during the season but we kept building that confidence … we don’t quit.”
Admitting that the Shamrocks may not have the talent the Lakers have, Heyes said the team has been able to create a great dynamic.
Stopping the Lakers offence will be key for the Shamrocks, Heyes said. The team will feel things out for the first two games in the hopes to come together by the third.
Shamrocks’ Adrian Sorichetti said he’s feeling excited going into the Mann Cup and is looking forward to Friday evening’s game.
“I think the challenges are going to be just staying consistent and staying focused on the goal,” Sorichetti said. “We’ve worked hard all season … those are some challenges we can definitely overcome and win the Mann Cup.”
This will be Sorichetti’s first Mann Cup experience and he said he’s “looking forward to every second of it.”
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Peterborough’s Kyle Buchanan said he’s also feeling excited going into the weekend, even though the team has “a big target on [their] back” after winning the last two years.
“We’re anticipating to have nobody on our side out here and we know that,” Buchanan said. “I know the first couple games are a feeling out process … we’re excited to get that going [Friday] night … For night one we’re just going to have to match [the Shamrocks’] intensity, they’re going to be fired up in their home arena.”
All six games of the 2015 Mann Cup were sold out at The Q Centre and the Shamrocks are anticipating a full, lively crowd again for this year’s best of seven series. While Heyes knows the team will be playing to the backdrop of screaming fans, he hasn’t lost sight of the work ahead.
“We are the underdogs,” Heyes said. “It’s going to be a challenge for sure.”
As of Thursday morning, standing room tickets were being sold and the club section was completely sold out. Fans can purchase tickets at the Shamrocks website as well as at the box office.
The beer garden will be open on The Q Centre grass starting at 5 p.m. on Friday and the game is set to start at 7 p.m.