Junior lacrosse ’Bellies draft Burrard first overall

Ridge Meadows Burrards players were a hot commodity in the B.C. Junior A Lacrosse League draft on Saturday in Nanaimo.

Dylan McCormick

Dylan McCormick

Ridge Meadows Burrards players were a hot commodity in the B.C. Junior A Lacrosse League draft on Saturday in Nanaimo, with Dylan McCormick picked first overall by the New Westminister Salmonbellies.

Four of the first six picks were Burrard midget players.

“I was really excited about it, and I’m also excited to go play junior with them,” McCormick said of the Salmonbellies.

He said New West is a good organization, and he is already familiar with the coaching staff.

Speed has been McCormick’s trademark, and it earned him spots on provincial teams in both box and field lacrosse. In both pee wee and bantam he was on Team B.C. box squads that took silver at nationals.

Salmonbellies coach Rich Catton has coached McCormick on Team B.C. and watched his progress for the past six years. He was the team’s unanimous choice with the first overall pick.

“We love his speed, work ethic and his shiftiness on offence,” he said.

“If he puts on a little size over the next couple of years, he’s going to do great.”

McCormick has already been targeted by recruiters for U.S. college field lacrosse teams offering him scholarships – the big prize that has more and more of B.C.’s elite athletes flocking to lacrosse.

They have seen him playing with Team B.C. and the Burnaby Mountain Selects team, in tournaments in Baltimore, Pennsylvania and San Diego.

But he isn’t sure he wants to head south. He enjoys metalwork, and is considering trade school after graduation. The Grade 11 student at Samuel Robertson Technical School has another year to make a decision, and will play intermediate lacrosse with the Burrards this coming season.

Then he will have decisions to make – he could play a second year of intermediate, or move on to junior.

Only cities without a junior A team are included in the midget draft, including North Shore, Port Moody, Mission, Chilliwack and Abbotsford.

Maple Ridge is the largest minor lacrosse association in the group.

Among other Burrards drafted, Aidan Murphy went fourth overall to Langley, Austin Cooke went fifth to Port Coquitlam and Gavin Bruce went sixth to New West.

Danny Harada coached these players through their last year of bantam and first year of midget.

McCormick, his nephew, is a top-five player in the province.

“His big advantage over everyone else is his speed and quickness. He can beat a guy down the floor, and he has an explosive first couple of steps. Guys just can’t keep up.”

He said Murphy is a big, strong kid who plays a smart game and has a dangerous outside shot.

Describing Cooke he uses words like “warrior,” “guts,” and “gritty.” At the next level, Harada projects him as a defensive standout.

And Bruce is a good all-around athlete, who plays big stick defence in field and on offence in box, where he has good one-on-one skills down low. He’s got good upside.

He said the Salmonbellies got a nice duo in the first round with McCormick and Bruce.

“There’s already some chemistry there. They played together for years.”

Association president Ron Williams said the past two years the Burrards have been prominent in the draft.

“We’re pretty proud of all the kids, and the coaches,” he said. “It’s just a real dedicated group of coaches. We have literally the best coaches in the Lower Mainland.

With a great minor program, intermediate and the WLA Burrards as reigning league champs, the missing piece of the puzzle in Maple Ridge is a junior A team.

“We’re really hopeful,” said Williams. “We would do anything we could to support it.”

Existing teams have feared that a ninth junior team would dilute the talent base, but Williams said the local association is growing by 50 kids per year for box lacrosse, and they expect 700 kids for the coming season.

“Our registration is just blowing up.”

Burrards drafted outside the first round were

  • Justin Cloete, 15th overall by Burnaby
  • Matthew David, 22nd overall by Port Coquitlam
  • Trevor Ebbutt, 28th overall by Langley
  • Mason Morais, 40th overall by New Westminster