World LAX championships set to start with local stars

A fifth straight world indoor lacrosse championship for Canada will have to go through the Tri-Cities.

Several local players will hit the floor at the Langley Events Centre beginning Thursday as Canada looks to defend a title it has yet to lose since the inaugural tournament was played in 2003 in Toronto. 

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Leading the effort will be Coquitlam goalie Christian Del Bianco who, at 22 years-old, has already won a National Lacrosse League championship with the Calgary Roughnecks and two Minto Cup national junior championships with the Coquitlam Adanacs. This past summer, he helped get his Maple Ridge Burrards to the Western Lacrosse Association finals where they were ousted by the Victoria Shamrocks in five games.

Del Bianco’s efforts to keep the ball out of Canada’s net will be bolstered by Coquitlam natives Matt Beers and Challen Rogers.

Beers, a veteran defenceman for the NLL’s Vancouver Warriors, played his junior lacrosse with the Coquitlam Adanacs and toils with the WLA’s Burnaby Lakers during the summer.

Rogers played his junior lacrosse with the Coquitlam Adanacs before graduating to the NLL’s Toronto Rock in 2017.

A trio of forwards from the Tri-Cities will also try to drive Canada’s scoring.

They’re led by Port Coquitlam’s Curtis Dickson, who is a teammate of Del Bianco’s in Calgary and Maple Ridge. He scored 81 points in 14 games for the Roughnecks last season after he missed the first few games because of a contract dispute. He added another 17 points in the team’s four-game run to a league championship.

He’ll be joined by Coquitlam’s Robert Church, another grad of the Jr. Adanacs that went to three consecutive MInto Cups during his tenure. 

Church was the most valuable player at the 2010 tournament and in 2009 he was voted the BC Junior A Lacrosse League’s most valuable player after he scored 107 points. He currently plays for the NLL’s Saskatchewan Rush and the WLA’s Burnaby Lakers.

Church’s teammate on the Rush, Coquitlam’s Ben McIntosh, will also wear the red and white Canada jersey. He scored 77 points in 18 games with his NLL team before pitching in 13 points in four regular season games with the WLA’s Burrards, and another 23 in the playoffs.

Other players on Canada’s roster with a local connection include former Sr. Adanac Dane Dobbie and Mark Matthews, who played his junior lacrosse with the organization.

The team will also have some familiar faces behind the bench. Pat Coyle, the former coach of the Jr. Adanacs, as well as the coach who preceded him, Curt Malawsky who is now the coach and assistant general manager of the NLL’s Roughnecks, will both be assisting Canada’s head coach Glenn Clark. 

Canada kicks off its schedule in the 20-team tournament Thursday against the United States, 7:30 p.m. at the LEC. They’ll play England on Friday at 4:30 p.m., Israel on Sunday at 4:30 p.m., then conclude the opening round on Monday at 7:30 p.m. against the Iroquois Nationals.

For more information about the tournament go to www.wilc2019.ca.

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