Junior Timbermen expect to overachieve

Nanaimo Timbermen junior A lacrosse players Ryan Hanna, left, Corey Shires and Dean Borrelli have their lacrosse sticks – and weighty expectations – on their shoulders as the B.C. Junior A Lacrosse League season gets underway. - GREG SAKAKI/The News Bulletin
Nanaimo Timbermen junior A lacrosse players Ryan Hanna, left, Corey Shires and Dean Borrelli have their lacrosse sticks – and weighty expectations – on their shoulders as the B.C. Junior A Lacrosse League season gets underway.
— image credit: GREG SAKAKI/The News Bulletin

All the Nanaimo Timbermen have to do in 2012, said team governor Bill Bestwick, is overachieve and exceed expectations.

The team’s new coach laid it out even more clearly.

“The goal this year for the owner, management, coaching staff and players is to win,” said Dale Nicks. “We expect to win the league, we expect to win the B.C.s and obviously we expect to win the Minto Cup.”

Rebuilding year? What’s that?

The Nanaimo Timbermen junior A lacrosse team begins a new season Saturday (April 28) with its home opener.

The team is also beginning a new era. There is new ownership, new management, a new coaching staff and an array of new players. Even the jerseys are new – the junior A Timbermen ditched their old logo and will now wear the same threads as their senior A affiliates.

The junior A T-men held their corporate launch Wednesday at Simon Holt restaurant and team owner Hadi Abassi brought along his national-championship rings to remind everyone of the ultimate goal.

“We’re going to be a good team this year … We’re expecting to be right there,” said Andrew Miller, one of the rookies. “There’s a lot of young talent but that doesn’t mean it’s rebuilding.”

Veteran Paul Brebber said this year’s team has one of the best shots to win of any of his seasons with the team.

“It’s definitely a year for us to make a push, really make a statement in the league,” he said.

Another vet Marino Best agreed this team is as strong as any he’s played on.

“I would never call this a rebuilding team,” he said.

That said, fans will need a program to identify all the new talent. Rookie Corey Shires leads an offence that also features returning veteran Glenn Foley. But the coach said Wednesday that one of the team’s strengths is its balanced attack.

“We want to create odd-man rushes. We expect to accomplish this by pressuring teams on defence in the full court and the half court,” Nicks said. “Our primary offence will be fast break and our secondary offence will involve a lot of player movement and ball movement.”

Best said the transition game is similar to past years, and he said the offence can also be effective when it slows things down and uses all its assets.

“We’ve got a lot of young talent coming up. The first-years are really skilled players,” he said. “We should jell together. It might take a couple games but once we get going we’ll be pretty hard to stop.”

The coach wants a defence that is willing to be tough and physical, and pointed to guys like Tyson Roe and Josh Cronan.

“We should have some size on our back gate this year,” said Nicks. “We expect to punish the other team’s offence.”

The goaltending tandem this year includes Pete Dubenski and former Victoria Shamrocks starter Cory Mayzes.

All told, seven rookies, seven second-years and six third-years will take the floor Saturday at Frank Crane Arena against the Coquitlam Adanacs.

The Adanacs are defending champions of the B.C. Junior A Lacrosse League. To beat them, the Timbermen just need to overachieve and exceed expectations.

And that’s the game plan.

GAME ON … The junior A Nanaimo Timbermen play the Coquitlam Adanacs on Saturday (April 28) at 5 p.m. at Frank Crane Arena and visit the New Westminster Salmonbellies on Sunday … Tickets to junior T-men home games cost $10 for adults or $5 for seniors, students and children six and over. For season tickets to all 20 home games for the junior A and senior A Timbermen, cost is $60 for adults, $50 for seniors, $40 for students and $20 for kids six and up.

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