Five members of the Maple Ridge Burrards senior A lacrosse team are on the Vancouver Warriors opening roster to start the 2018-19 NLL season
“We have built this team on skilled lacrosse players who come to our franchise with character, integrity, respect, hard work and a sense of community,” said Warriors general manager Dan Richardson. “Now the real work begins.”
The Porter brothers, Zack and Colton, who have provided the Burrards with relentless defensive pressure, have made the team, along with hard-nosed defenders Tyler Codron and Owen Barker, and offensive player Jean-Luc Chetner.
“I’m pretty excited,” said Barker. “This is the highest level of box lacrosse you can play. It’s going to be a new experience. It’s a faster league and the knowledge the players have of the game is so high. Everyone knows what they’re doing out on the floor.”
Burrards GM Lance Andre was excited for the five, and for what it means for his WLA team in the coming season.
“Five guys cracked Vancouver’s roster, which is awesome,” said Andre.
The Vancouver NLL team has not had Burrards in the past, but their best offensive player have been with Calgary, Saskatchewan, Colorado and other teams. With these five making the NLL, Andre expects 12-13 of his players to be in NLL lineups in the coming season.
“They are going to get so much better playing in the NLL,” he said.
The Burrards were whipping boys in the WLA for decades, but have assembled a great organization that has made the Mann Cup in two out of the last three seasons, said Andre. Vancouver has taken notice.
The Porter brothers, defensive aces, have been a huge part of that. Both are listed at five-foot-eight and 175 pounds, and have been told they are not big enough to play in the NLL.
Andre has watched them shut down the best players in the WLA, who are generally NLL stars, so he is confident they can get the job done.
“They’ve always been told they’re too small for the NLL, but in our league they’ve dominated – they shut down guys who are top players in the NLL.”
Zack’s faceoff efficiency is another part of his game that is going to play well, even at the NLL level, Andre predicted.
Codron has already been in the NLL with the Colorado Mammoth, but he needed knee surgery and lost his spot. Andre expects he will have some productive seasons of shut-down defence left to give the Warriors.
“He’s in the shape of a 22-year-old,” said Andre.
Barker is super steady.
“He has been an unsung hero with us for two years,” said Andre. “He does everything right, and he works his (butt) off.”
And Chetner is the one offensive player on the Burrards who is not on an NLL roster that the Warriors wanted.
The first-year player had eight goals and 16 points in nine WLA playoff games last season, and had another five points in four Mann Cup games. In the regular season, he finished fourth on the Burrards with 10 goals and 28 points in 12 games.
“He’s another little sparkplug,” said Andre. “He’s smaller, but he’s not afraid – he goes to the dirty areas, and he has a high lacrosse IQ.”
Vancouver will feature a strong local flavour to their roster, with 18 of 21 players on the active roster making the Province of British Columbia their home for all 12 months of the year.
“We have a great resource of lacrosse talent in our province and look to utilize that to build our team now and into the future,” said Richardson. “We can then augment our BC players with key players like our goaltender Aaron Bold and others to showcase the great lacrosse talent that we have in British Columbia.”
The Vancouver Warriors are set to kick off their inaugural season at Rogers Arena, having moved from the Langley Events Centre.
The Warriors open the NLL season in Calgary on Dec. 15 against the Roughnecks.