WLA draft presents unexpected gifts to Adanacs

It looks more like hockey season outside than lacrosse season, but the general manager of the Coquitlam Adanacs feels like a kid on Christmas morning, so it kinda works.

Mike Petrie said a couple of unexpected selections by the Langley Thunder and Maple Ridge Burrards, combined with the impact of the recent trade of Justin Salt to the New Westminster Salmonbellies changed the dynamics of the Western Lacrosse Association’s annual junior draft that was held Feb. 7 at the Langley Events Centre. And the Adanacs were only too happy to take advantage.

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“I feel the draft went in a little different direction than I thought it would,” Petrie said. “I think we did okay.”

The Adanacs, with the first selection in the draft because of their dismal last place finish last season, surprised nobody when they plucked goalkeeper Christian Del Bianco from the Jr. Adanacs, whom he led to two Minto Cup national junior lacrosse championships in the past three years.

Petrie said the 21 year-old native of Port Coquitlam who’s already playing professionally with the Calgary Roughnecks of the National Lacrosse League, is a generational netminder who instantly makes the Adanacs a better team even before he’s pulled on a jersey.

“To be able to draft a quality goalie like him, I’ve got players wanting to play with us because of him,” Petrie said.

The selection of Del Bianco’s junior teammate, Ryland Rees, by the Burnaby Lakers with the next pick in the draft also wasn’t a big surprise, Petrie said.

But when the Langley Thunder plucked Brad McCulley from the Victoria Jr. Shamrocks, and the Maple Ridge Burrards chose his teammate Marshal King fourth overall, Petrie said the draft was torn asunder as WLA teams rarely pluck players from outside their immediate area in the early rounds.

The chaos meant some players Petrie expected would be gone by the time the Adanacs came around again with the first pick of the second round were still available. And the domino effect reverberated down through the draft’s later rounds as well.

One of those unexpected surprises was Carter Dickson of the New Westminster Jr. Salmonbellies.

“He’s going to add some needed offence,” said Petrie of the forward who scored 77 points last season and is a teammate of Del Bianco’s on the NLL’s Roughnecks. “He fits right in with what we were looking for.”

Other picks that fell the Adanacs’ way include John Hofseth, whom the Adanacs got in the third round, 15th overall, and two picks later, Ty Goff. Petrie said he didn’t think either would still be available.

“We feel very lucky,” Petrie said, adding Hofseth’s versatility and Goff’s defensive abilities will rub off on the rest of the team.

Petrie said the players the Adanacs have added through the draft, as well as the recent acquisition of Keegan Rittinger from the Langley Thunder means the days of his team representing an easy two points for opponents are nigh.

“They’re going to have to go hard on every shift, it’s going to be grind to beat the Adanacs,” Petrie said of his side that won only twice last season and hasn’t been to the WLA playoffs since 2013. “We just want to be a competitive team, and we feel we’re close to being that team.”

The new-look Adanacs will debut May 25, when the team opens their WLA season at home against the Burnaby Lakers. The next night they’ll visit Maple Ridge for a game against the Burrards. The league opens its schedule May 23 with a game between the Langley Thunder and the New Westminster Salmonbellies.

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