The Nanaimo Timbermen had their best-ever season last summer, and want to be able to follow that up.
The senior A club finished the 2022 regular season in a four-way tie for first place, then won a playoff round to make the Western Lacrosse Association finals for the first time in franchise history.
Team president Chris Bowman said “95 per cent” of the team is returning, so the T-men have to be considered contenders again. It’s a year when the Mann Cup national championship will be played in B.C., so the WLA teams serious about winning will be stacking their roster.
“We’ve got to focus on ourselves to put the best team we can on the floor, but you do listen and hear and wonder what the other teams are doing…” Bowman said. “There are some teams that have added some significant pieces.”
Nanaimo will be bringing back key players at all areas of the floor. The team’s top four scorers from 2022 – Jon Phillips, Colton Lidstone, Taggart Clark and Zach Manns – are all coming back, as well as Jerome (Hiana) Thompson. The right side is getting a huge boost with highly touted draft pick Ryan Sheridan, as well as newcomer Kyle Playsted.
The veteran defence corps will be led again by Adam Wiedemann and Nate Wade and bolstered by draft picks Griffin Hall, who has been a standout at training camp, and Evan Soucy.
“It’s an old saying from almost every sport – defence wins championships,” Bowman said. “If you’ve got a defence that’s tough and mean and aggressive to play against and is big and strong and shuts down the opposition and can score in transition, it’s a really tough thing to play against. There’s no easy goals against our defence.”
The goaltending tandem is expected to be among the league’s best, with last year’s No. 1 goalie Devlin Shanahan returning, now joined by high draft pick Justin Geddie.
The coaching staff also stays unchanged, led by Tewanee Joseph.
Bowman said it’s a skilled group filled with National Lacrosse League pros who remain excited to play summer lacrosse in Nanaimo.
“Our dressing room is so strong,” the team president said. “There’s a bunch of great leaders in there and there’s a bunch of high-character people that I think represent the program and represent this city very well.”
GAME ON … The Timbermen start the season on the road with games in New Westminster on Thursday, May 25, and Coquitlam on Saturday, May 27. Nanaimo’s home opener is June 3 versus the Langley Thunder at 5 p.m. at Frank Crane Arena. For season ticket information, visit www.tmen.ca/tickets.Follow @nanaimobulletin