Jr. Timbermen trade away top scorers in fire sale

Nanaimo Timbermen player Nick Sanderson, left, is checked by Burnaby Lakers opponent Brendan Shea during Saturday
Nanaimo Timbermen player Nick Sanderson, left, is checked by Burnaby Lakers opponent Brendan Shea during Saturday's B.C. Junior A Lacrosse League game at Frank Crane Arena. Sanderson was one of the players acquired in a trade earlier in the week.
— image credit: GREG SAKAKI/The News Bulletin

The junior A Nanaimo Timbermen conceded that 2012 isn’t their year.

The city’s B.C. Junior A Lacrosse League team traded away most of its best players last week.

Nanaimo traded away three of its top four goal scorers, its No. 1 goalie and two other players in trades with the Victoria Shamrocks, Coquitlam Adanacs and Delta Islanders.

Graduating veteran Paul Brebber, former captain Glenn Foley and the playing rights to Ethan Garland were moved to the Shamrocks in exchange for Nick Sanderson, Freddie Bathurst-Hunt and future considerations.

Leading scorer Corey Shires was shipped to the Adanacs for future considerations and goalie Pete Dubenski and top goal-getter Mitch Parker are headed to the Islanders, also for futures. Shires, Parker and Dubenski are rental players who will be returned to the T-men for the 2013 season.

“I would rather be a buyer than a seller, but we didn’t find ourself in a buying position…” said Bill Bestwick, Timbermen director of operations. “I think it was the right thing to do given our circumstance and the situation we found ourself in.”

The Timbermen (2-13-1) were a long shot to make the post-season, but had won two of their last four games before the trades.

“I felt that our team was turning the corner and felt that the focus at Wednesday night’s practice was much better,” said Dale Nicks, Timbermen coach. “So it was a shock at first, Thursday night.”

He and his assistant coaches weren’t consulted on the deals.

“Upper management called me Thursday night to tell me what had transpired and I wasn’t part of that decision making,” said Nicks.

Bestwick said once it became clear the team wasn’t going to make the playoffs, the operations staff made the decision to consider moving players.

“The coaching staff was informed that we were going to be speaking with other teams about players on our team,” Bestwick said. “Were they participating in whether they thought it was a good trade or a bad trade? No.”

Bestwick said he feels like the trades were all good trades. A veteran like Brebber, he said, deserves a chance for one more playoff run. Foley had been injured all spring and Garland had been on the hold-out list all season. As for Shires, Parker and Dubenski, they might come back next year as better players.

“They’re going to get the opportunity to play in post-season play and one of these kids is going to win a B.C. championship, I would suspect,” Bestwick said.

Sporting a new-look lineup Saturday at Frank Crane Arena, the Timbermen were edged 7-6 by the Burnaby Lakers. The next day against the tough Adanacs on the road, the T-men were hammered 18-3.

“When I put the roster together [after the trades], I actually felt that if everybody works hard and we score by committee … there’s no reason why we shouldn’t compete every game,” Nicks said.

He said players will have the opportunity now for more floor time and power-play time.

Even with so much talent now traded away, Nicks said the T-men will be trying to win games.

“It’s a business, and I’ve learned that now…” said the coach. “Our goal is to win and it’s got to be that because this is a business and if we’re not winning, we’re not putting people in the stands and the team’s not making money.”

Team captain Bryan Dougan felt like the team was still in the playoff hunt at the time of the trades.

“We were all kind of shocked by it, we didn’t really see it coming…” he said. “We can make do with what we’ve got. We’re still going to keep battling night in and night out. Just keep playing for the boys in the dressing room. Keep playing for the logo on our jersey.”

LACROSSE TALK … In Saturday’s loss to the Lakers, Macgregor Johnston scored two goals and Ryan Nicks, Brett Fleming, Tyson Roe and Stu Mills were the other scorers. Cory Mayzes made 45 saves in defeat. On Sunday Bryson Weberg, Ryan Hanna and Stu Mills scored for Nanaimo and Shires had a pair for Coquitlam. Mayzes faced 67 shots in the loss … Next game for the Timbermen is Saturday (June 23) when they host the Langley Thunder at 5 p.m. at Frank Crane Arena.

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