The Maple Ridge Burrards lost to the New Westminster Salmonbellies on Monday night in Western Lacrosse Association exhibition action, but a local player’s performance went a long way to earning him a spot in the lineup.
Lyndon Knuttila had three goals and three assists for the Burrards to lead the scoring. He was the Burrards’ fifth-round pick in the 2016 draft, is from Maple Ridge, and played with the Port Coquitlam Saints last year. The Thomas Haney secondary grad also played for the SFU Clan field lacrosse club team. He put up 33 goals and 52 points in 13 games in the 2016 season.
“He had stood out at camp already,” said new coach Rob Williams, noting that Knuttila has a great shot, good hands, works hard and plays a gritty style that gets under his opponents’ skin.
“He’s a really good player, with a bunch of different intangibles.”
With five players still in the NLL playoffs, the Burrards dressed a roster that was young.
The Burrards led the game 3-2 after the first period, but were outscored 6-1 in the second.
Cody Adamson had two goals and two assists, while Luke Gillespie and Spencer Evans each scored and tallied three points. Defensive ace Zack Porter was the other scorer.
Gillespie is another Maple Ridge player who is a new addition to the Burrards. His hometown team acquired Gillespie from the Salmonbellies in exchange for their first round pick in the 2016 draft. GM Daren Fridge also finagled a first round pick in 2017 out of the ‘Bellies as part of the deal.
Whatever is made of those picks, Fridge’s head coach likes the guy on his roster this season.
“He’s the real deal,” Williams said of Gillespie.
“He should be a top 10 guy (in league scoring), or we’re doing something wrong as coaches.”
Gillespie has 34 points in 13 games so far in his WLA career.
Monday was a night for playing the kids.
Ridge started goaltender Charles Claxton, a second-round pick in the last draft, and he allowed eight goals on 37 shots in 35 minutes of play.
He was replaced by Brandon Mulligan, who allowed one goal on 12 shots in 25 minutes of play.
“They both played well,” said the coach. “It’s an adjustment to the WLA. There’s better shooters.”
The Burrards home opener will be May 22 when they face the Langley Thunder, at 6:45 p.m. at Planet Ice.