The Nanaimo Timbermen didn’t have to look far to find some of the players they wanted most on draft day. The T-men chose Nanaimo juniors early and often at the WLA Draft, held last week in Langley.
Nanaimo’s first choice was Will Johansen, chosen in the draft’s compensatory round. Johansen had been the captain of the junior A Timbermen under coach Dave Bremner, who is now coach of the senior A squad.
“Will’s just a tireless worker,” Bremner said. “He’s an incredible defensive player and transition player, has great stick skills and is an intelligent player who makes the right decisions all the time.”
It will be an easy transition for him to move up to the junior ranks, the coach predicts, and the same is true for the team’s next choice, Colton Lidstone, who was chosen with the fourth selection in the first round. Another Nanaimo junior, Lidstone is a right-handed offensive player who is tough and hard-nosed and a great passer.
Nanaimo had back-to-back picks in the first round and also took Caleb Keuber from the Victoria junior A program. Keuber is a left-handed transition player who will bolster that side of the floor in both the offensive and defensive zones and create scoring chances in transition.
Nanaimo took another Victoria junior, Teioshontathe McComber, in the third round, added Nanaimo juniors Zack Sawyer and Matt DiGirolamo in the fourth and fifth rounds and also added Spencer Erwin, Jake Pelletier and Cordell Primus.
Two days before the draft, the T-men traded veteran Colton Clark, who is from Nanaimo, to the New Westminster Salmonbellies in exchange for a 2023 draft pick. Then, on draft day, another trade saw the Timbermen add Austin Madronic, a right-handed offensive player who has a lot of skill and goes to the dirty areas of the floor.
“At the end of the night, we were very excited about what we got and who we got and we think that we’ve definitely improved the senior Timbermen ball club tremendously,” Bremner said. “We’ve gotten better as a whole as a club [and] increased our competition level at practices and training camp which will only make you better.”
The 2020 season was lost to COVID-19, and while some players are playing with NCAA programs, others haven’t had chances to play and can’t wait, Bremner said.
“I think we’ll be ready to go. I think most teams will be,” he said.