The newlook Maple Ridge Burrards get back on the floor on Sunday.
“We’ve got a new look as far as new uniforms go, and new faces, and a new head coach,” noted general manager Daren Fridge.
The biggest change will be Frankie Scigliano. It’s “big” any time you make a change at the one position that is on the floor the entire game. And big, too, because Scigliano is a mountain of a goaltender. At six-foot-four and 290 pounds, he makes Milan Lucic look like a wimp.
Scigliano is the rare goaltender who was drafted in the first round of the WLA entry draft.
“He’s someone we’re looking to count on, to make a difference,” said Fridge.
Last year the Burrards ranked last in the league in save percentage, and second last in goals against average, and have said farewell to veteran Chris Levis. He is a veteran with 11 seasons in the National Lacrosse League, but is now 38 years old.
Scigliano may not make opening night, because he is playing pro lacrosse with the NLL’s Calgary Roughnecks, in his second season as a backup.
The team’s leading scorer, league MVP Curtis Dickson, is also with the Roughnecks, and may not be around for the opener, depending on how their playoffs progress.
Dickson will be challenged to lead the league in scoring again this year – because he will only play eight to 10 games. He has been chosen to play for the national field lacrosse team at the world championships in Denver, Col. It’s a huge honour, and to get ready, Dickson will play some outdoor games with the Denver Outlaws.
He will be around for the WLA playoffs.
Reegan Comeault of Pitt Meadows, who plays for Ohio State, wants to play box lacrosse this summer, and the Burrards were able to trade for his rights from the Nanaimo Timbermen for two non-roster players. Fridge said Comeault is stocky with quick feet.
“He can create his own chances, and he has a cannon of an outside shot.”
Scigliano wasn’t the only upgrade that the Burrards made in their own end of the rink.
During the offseason, the they swung a deal with the Coquitlam Adanacs, sending them forward Jaeden Gastaldo, Ridge’s second-round pick in the 2013 draft, for Travis Irving – a six-foot-four, 220-pound defender, with 25 WLA games under his belt.
Daniel McDermott out of Delta Junior Am was the team’s second-round pick in the entry draft. He plays for the New York Institute of Technology, and was the defensive player of the year in the conference. He plays transition.
Former team captain Tyler Codron took a year off from the WLA to begin his career as a Burnaby firefighter. He’s back, and coach Chris Gill calls him “a huge presence.”
“Hard-nosed, smart and keeps it calm and cool down there.”
Last year the team got off to a fast 5-2 start, and were the talk of the league, but then plunged into a deep funk that saw the team finish 8-10 and miss the playoffs.
Everyone’s confident this year will be different, and a new head coach is a big part of that.
“The new voice make a big difference,” said Fridge. “He [Gill] has grown up around the game, and has seen a lot of scenarios.”
With more size on defence, Gill plans to use it.
“We’re hoping to be a tough team to play against.”
The new coach has put in a new offensive system. He’s not tipping his hand about what it’ll look like, but says fans will see the Burrards maintaining possession of the ball.
“Too many teams give the ball away too much,” maintains Gill.
The defensive system has been revamped, with a new emphasis on teamwork.
“The guys are loving it,” said Gill of early season. “They’re jacked up and excited, and working hard.”
Gill hopes to make a good first impression against Nanaimo.
“You want to put a good show on in Game One.”
The first game of the season will be Sunday at 6:45 p.m. at Planet Ice.
It will open with minor lacrosse appreciation, with a barbecue at 4 p.m., and activities including a hardest shot contest and dunk tank.