The Nanaimo Timbermen were only a few pieces away from being a championship team last year, and some incoming talent will help them stay in the hunt.
The T-men drafted potential impact players on all areas of the floor at the Western Lacrosse Association’s junior draft this week.
The league introduced a territorial protection system this year, so Nanaimo was able to take two standouts from the junior Timbermen program, goalie Justin Geddie and forward Ryan Sheridan. Both already have experience as senior A call-ups and both will “instantly” help the team, said club president Chris Bowman.
Geddie backstopped the juniors to their two best-ever seasons the past two summers. Last year he was second in the BCJALL in wins with nine and second in save percentage at .842 and is currently playing in the National Lacrosse League. Bowman said Geddie could solidify the team’s goaltending for years to come and noted that he’s been with the T-men program since he was midget-age.
“It’s good for the fans, I think, too, because they’ve seen him grow up and evolve to what he is and now they can watch him take those next steps even further,” Bowman said.
Sheridan was in the top 10 in the BCJALL in goals last season with 24 goals and 20 assists in 12 games, plus another 11 goals in four playoff games.
“He’s one of those unique guys, he’s 6-foot-4, he’s over 200 pounds, he’s got an amazing skill set, he’s a great athlete,” Bowman said. “And he’s already proven he can score at the senior A level.”
On draft night Tuesday, Jan 31, the Timbermen had two first-round picks and used them both on defenders, taking Evan Soucy from the junior T-men third overall and then Griffin Hall from the junior Victoria Shamrocks fifth overall. Soucy is an elite stay-at-home defender, Bowman said, who plays with smarts and toughness, and Hall is an intimidating 6-foot-5, 210-pound NLL player who favours a stay-at-home style as well but has potential to round out his game.
Nanaimo’s second-round pick, Evan Pattison, is another “rock solid” defender whom opposing forwards hate to play against.
Bowman said the Timbermen already considered defence to be a strength area and so they were open to taking the right offensive players high in the draft, but they were also determined to take the best player available.
“I think our defence is arguably the best in the league and one of the best in the country and adding these guys is just going to make it that much better,” the team president said.
Nanaimo’s other draft choices were Easton Ong, Brian Simmons, Andrew Bishop and Karson Gregory.
Of note, the top three selections in the WLA draft all came from the junior Timbermen program – Jacob Dunbar went first overall to the Burnaby Lakers, Arthur Miller was chosen next by the Victoria Shamrocks, and then Soucy. Bowman said it was a point of pride for the program.
The Timbermen made it to the WLA finals last summer and Bowman said the day after they were eliminated, they started thinking about what they needed to do to have a different result the next time around. He expects other teams around the league to “load up” on talent this year and wants to make sure the T-men add pieces, too.
“It’s just when and how and what’s the most effective and competitive way to do it,” he said. “We don’t have a lot of holes … but there’s a few things we need to address, I think, to ensure that we’re the best in the west.”