Sean Messenger (bottom row

Sean Messenger (bottom row

Home sweet home

Thunder pair look to win Mann Cup in their hometown

Shortly after they first began playing box lacrosse, Kyle Belton and Sean Messenger learned quickly about the Mann Cup.

“That is what everyone talks about,” Messenger said. “It is the goal to get to in Canada.”

“I idolized guys like John Grant Jr.” added Belton, about the four-time Mann Cup winner who also plays professionally in the National Lacrosse League and the Major Lacrosse League.

“They were getting rings,” Belton said. “I heard about the Mann Cup and what it was all about.”

Since 1910, the Mann Cup has been presented to the top senior A men’s lacrosse team in Canada. It pits the winner of the Western Lacrosse Association (B.C.) against the Ontario champions (Major Series Lacrosse).

Belton and Messenger began playing at an early age.

Belton, 24, recalled picking up his first lacrosse stick at age four and his family having to pry the stick out of his hands.

He was introduced to the sport by his dad, Cal, a former player who also coached him.

Messenger, 23, followed his older brother into the game.

Both Belton and Messenger graduated through the ranks of the Langley Minor Lacrosse Association, playing on the same team every two years because of their one-year age difference.

In 2004, they were teammates on a Langley squad which won the midget provincial championship.

But now, seven years later, the pair have their sights set on winning a Mann Cup as members of their hometown team, the Langley Thunder.

What makes it even more special is the fact the best-of-seven series will be played at the Langley Events Centre. (It alternates yearly between B.C. and Ontario).

“It is really exciting to play the Mann Cup at home,” Messenger said. “It is great, all our friends and family are going to come out and fill the stadium.

“We feed off the bigger crowds.”

“Playing in front of your home crowd, you can’t beat it,” Belton added. “Tons of family and friends will be coming out, so it will be a neat experience.”

 

 

Carl MEADOWS/Langley Thunder

Kyle Belton (#12) and Sean Messenger (#4) played together through the ranks of the Langley Minor Lacrosse Association. The homegrown talent are now trying to help the senior A Langley Thunder win their first-ever Mann Cup.

The Thunder have proved outstanding on their home floor. They went 7-2 at the Langley Events Centre during the regular season and are a perfect 5-0 at home in the post-season.

Once they were done their respective minor lacrosse eligibility, both players graduated to junior.

Messenger played for the Langley Jr. Thunder and the Delta Jr. Islanders.

Belton, who also played rep hockey through minor, chose lacrosse — he was more passionate about the sport — and joined the New Westminster Jr. Salmonbellies and helped the storied organization advance to the Minto Cup, the Canadian junior A championship.

Unfortunately, his team lost in the semifinals.  He does not want to experience that feeling again.

“You can ask any kid who plays lacrosse, the Minto Cup and the Mann Cup are a dream,” Belton said. “I was honoured enough to play for a Minto back in the day and … now I have the opportunity to get the Mann Cup and it is a privilege”

“Being where we are is a pretty incredible feeling,” he added.

Following the Mann Cup, Belton will head back to New York’s Stony Brook University, where he is a senior and on a field lacrosse scholarship.

Messenger will begin training for Langley Rugby Club’s season.