Salt adds spice to Mann Cup aspirations in New West

Everyone knows too much salt is a bad thing. In lacrosse circles, Salt can be especially bad for opposing offences.

That’s good if you’re the New Westminster Salmonbellies, who acquired Coquitlam’s Justin Salt in a deal with the Burnaby Lakers on the weekend.

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The trade, which occurred as teams prepare for Thursday’s Western Lacrosse Association's Junior Draft, sees the 'Bellies forgoing its first and second round selections, as well as New West's first choice in 2021.

In Salt, the reigning regular season champs are getting a versatile, feisty defender who is known to be a thorn with his transition work.

"What we're getting is a guy who we view as being in his prime lacrosse years, who has a track record on transition and defence that is among the best in the league, and who is a strong character for the dressing room to boot," remarked New West general manager Dan Richardson.

"For me, it was an easy decision to make. We stocked up an area we were hoping to improve on, and (Salt) is excited to be back in Salmonbellie colours."

He noted that plugging Salt in a defence with Brett Mydske, Mike Messenger and Justin and Brandon Goodwin, along with the expected return of Brendan Ranford, gives the team a very strong backline.

The 28-year-old Salt played junior in New West, and is a starter with Richardson's winter team, the National Lacrosse League's Vancouver Warriors.

Last year, due to NLL commitments and a lingering injury, Salt only dressed for five Laker games, contributing two goals and two assists. In Burnaby's run to a WLA regular season title in 2017, he tallied 10 goals and seven helpers over 13 games. He was named to a first team all-star. As a second-year player with the Lakers in 2013, Salt was awarded the Fred Wooster Award as the league's unsung hero. He was a second round pick by the Lakers in 2012.

The Coquitlam Adanacs will draft first overall in Thursday’s draft, which makes them the likely landing spot for Port Coquitlam netminder Christian Del Bianco, who led the Jr. Adanacs to a Minto Cup national championship last September.

The Adanacs will also pick first in each of the subsequent seven rounds, but they did give up one of their three selections in the third round, along with the playing rights to veteran goalie Dan Lewis last week to the Langley Thunder in exchange for the playing rights to defender Keegan Rittinger, who’s originally from Coquitlam and played for the Jr. Adanacs. He was originally drafted eighth overall by Langley in 2017.

Locals help bury Warriors

• The NLL Warriors, meanwhile, jumped out of the gate Saturday but were unable to follow up in the fourth quarter in an 8-5 loss in Calgary to the Roughnecks.

Vancouver built a quick 3-0 lead before the game was five minutes old, with 'Bellies forward Logan Schuss notching a pair. They'd lead 4-2 late in the first quarter, but Calgary stormed back. After the Roughnecks went up 5-4 on the second of three goals by Port Coquitlam’s Curtis Dickson, the Warriors' Mitch Jones pulled it even with less than 12 minutes to play. The home team countered with three unanswered goals to help the Roughnecks end a three-game losing skid.

Both netminders -- Calgary's Del Bianco, and Vancouver's Eric Penney -- had strong games.

"We had control of that game really until the third quarter," said Richardson. "Our powerplay was our nemesis, as we hardly generated any quality shots. I felt that our (defence) and goaltending certainly did what they needed to do for us to win that game. Both goalies played very well."

The Warriors' next game is Friday in San Diego against the expansion Seals, whose roster includes defenders Garrett McIntosh and Tor Reinholt, from Coquitlam and Port Moody respectively, as well as goaltender Frank Scigliano, who’s also from Coquitlam.

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