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Lacrosse is back: Draft picks and the return of a star goalie boost hopes for Coquitlam Adanacs

The Coquitlam Adanacs haven't qualified for the WLA playoffs since 2013.
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Christian del Bianco, a star goalie with the Coquitlam Jr. Adanacs is back with the senior team after spending a portion of the 2019 season with the Maple Ridge Burrards.

If Western Lacrosse Association (WLA) commissioner Paul Dal Monte is worried about players not being allowed to toil in the league while they’re also being paid to play in a professional field lacrosse circuit, the Coquitlam Adanacs are feeling it.

General manager Scott Wortley says he expects several veteran Adanac players will be unavailable to the team when it begins its schedule on May 28 against the Burnaby Lakers.

Wortley said Reid Bowering, Ryland Rees and Wesley Berg are amongst a corps of about 20 WLA players whose contracts with the U.S.-based Premier Lacrosse League that operates in the summertime restricts them from concurrently playing box lacrosse in the WLA or Ontario’s Major Series Lacrosse.

Fortunately, three years of draft picks who’ve been biding their time while the senior league has ridden out the COVID-19 pandemic means there’s plenty of young talent to take their places on the floor at the Poirier Sport and Leisure Complex.

Some of those are payoffs from a blockbuster trade three years ago that sent the playing rights to goaltender Christian Del Bianco, who had led the Jr. Adanacs to the 2018 Minto Cup junior national championship, to the Maple Ridge Burrards.

That deal reaped the Adanacs’ first-round picks in the 2020 and 2022 drafts, the playing rights to Chase McIntyre and Ryan Johnson, as well as future considerations.

Johnson is back, along with youngsters like Dylan Watson, who helped lead the Orangeville Northmen to the Minto Cup championship in 2019, Jalen Chaster, whom the Adanacs selected from the Junior squad as its territorial pick in the 2021 draft, and transition player Levi Anderson, plucked from the Okotoks Jr. Raiders.

Best of all though, Del Bianco is back in the Adanacs’ fold as the 2019 deal only included his rights for that season.

Wortley said the promise of emerging young players has fired the veterans with renewed enthusiasm.

He said his phone has been busy with calls and text messages waiting for the season to happen.

Another reason for their optimism is a new synergy between the Junior and Senior Adanacs teams that now operate under the same management umbrella.

That makes Wortley’s job busy, as he’s the general manager of both, but the benefits should be realized on the floor as the senior team will be able to dip into the junior pool of players when needed, as well as help guide their overall development. Key to that is the elevation of former Jr. Adanacs’ coach Pat Coyle to the spot behind the bench of the Sr. Adanacs.

While he was named to the position in October 2019, he’s yet to scrawl a play on the whiteboard at a senior practice because of the cancellations of the 2020 and 2021 seasons.

“The team dynamic has changed,” Wortley said. “It makes it exciting.”

Still, he added, there’s many unknowns.

Some veteran players have decided to move on from lacrosse after two years away.

Others may not join the team until part way into the season as they drift back from playing in the National Lacrosse League (NLL) through the winter.

“Our expectations are to come out and be a different team,” Wortley said, adding a playoff spot for the first time since 2013 would be a huge step forward.

Coquitlam Adanacs home schedule:

  • May 28 vs Burnaby Lakers 7 p.m.
  • May 31 vs Nanaimo Timbermen 7 p.m.
  • June 14 vs Maple Ridge Burrards 7:30 p.m.
  • June 18 vs Langley Thunder 7 p.m.
  • June 25 vs Burnaby Lakers 7 p.m.
  • June 28 vs New West Salmonbellies 7:30 p.m.
  • July 9 vs Victoria Shamrocks 7 p.m.
  • July 16 vs Nanaimo Timbermen 7 p.m.
  • July 20 vs Maple Ridge Burrards 7 p.m.

More in our Lacrosse is back series: