Last year at the trade deadline, the Nanaimo Timbermen blew up their team, trading away three top players. It was an admission that they weren’t quite ready to win yet.
Maybe this year they will be ready.
The Nanaimo junior A Timbermen hold their home opener Friday (May 6) and they hope to show fans the makings of the best junior Timbermen team yet.
Will they take that next step?
“I’m going to say yes, I’m going to definitely say yes,” said Dave Bremner, the team’s coach. “You’re going to see an improvement on the record again, you’re going to see an improvement in play.”
Certainly the team is taking the right attitude into the 2011 B.C. Junior A Lacrosse League season.
“We want to win. We want a winning team, and we haven’t throughout our history,” said Paul Brebber, Timbermen veteran. “This year we have the team.”
And they think they have the right game plan, too. Bremner favours a unique style that doesn’t pigeonhole players as front-end or back-end guys. They’re all expected to get it done at both ends of the floor.
“We encourage all our players to run the floor as much as possible,” said the coach. “I think that’s the only way we’re going to compete with the Coquitlams and the New Wests right now, is to outrun them.”
At this time of year, every team talks about wanting to play an up-tempo style, but the Timbermen believe they can truly be a few steps quicker.
“Running’s going to be huge, and using our speed to our advantage,” said Ryan Sage, a newcomer to the team. “We’ve got a lot of fast guys on the team and we’re going to play a lot of transition, hopefully catching teams off-guard.”
Cody Bremner, Joey Fendick, Glenn Foley, Kyle Hofer and Sage will be looked upon for offence.
“That’s one of our luxuries we have this year, is that we’ve got a strong group of scoring guys,” said the coach.
He wasn’t keen to single out his son, but Cody Bremner is likely to be the catalyst of any team success.
“He’s got to be a team leader this year and lead this team in different areas,” said Dave Bremner. “Not so much the goal-scoring department, but in the back end, in the transition, and when things get tough he’ll be a guy that we’ll heavily rely on, like a few others here.”
Some of the important transition players include returnees Brebber, Isaac Haack and Jake Ryan.
There is a change in the crease this year as Devon Winter becomes the team’s new No. 1 goaltender, backed up by Jericho Paul. Former starter Scott Bannister was traded to his hometown Victoria Shamrocks during the off-season for Sage.
Coach Bremner said his goaltending tandem can “absolutely” be a team strength.
“That all depends on how we play in front of them,” he said. “If we’re forcing the bad shots we’re very confident they’re going to make the saves that we need them to make.”
The Timbermen won’t have their full complement of players to start the season, but they plan to try to execute their game plan regardless.
“I don’t believe in playing any different, like playing all defensive,” Bremner said. “I want to go out and win games. We’re going to run and continue to work on our conditioning the first three games and see where we go from there.”
They know where they want to go: higher in the standings than ever before. After countless one- and two-goal losses last year, they’re ready to turn those games into wins.
“If we just eliminate those one or two goals, those errors that we made, we can make sure that we have a winning season,” Brebber said.
GAME ON … The Timbermen play the Delta Islanders on Friday (May 6) at 7:30 p.m. at the Nanaimo Ice Centre.