The Nanaimo Timbermen know something needs to change.
After missing the playoffs in the Western Lacrosse Association on a tie-breaker the last two summers, the city’s senior A squad craves those few extra victories that would transform the team from an also-ran into a contender.
It will take the right personnel, the right game plan, the right work ethic, and maybe the right attitude, too.
“Hopefully we’ll come with a different mentality this year – a mentality of we want to win, we expect to win,” said Simon Stocks, alternate captain. “The attitude, the skill’s there and if it jells early it’s going to be good, on both sides of the floor.”
Team captain Scott Ranger said any wins will have to come through work ethic.
“We’re going to have everybody play real hard and we’re going to base everything off of that,” he said. “That’s a step in the right direction and I think we’re going to take off.”
The Coastal Windows Timbermen open their season Sunday (May 20) with a game against the Langley Thunder at Frank Crane Arena.
Playing the defending champions won’t be easy, but then again there aren’t any gimme games in the WLA.
Every game is massive, said Timbermen coach Art Webster, and he’s stressing that to his players.
“In this league, all the other teams have gotten better, too,” he said. “Sixteen games, every game’s a playoff game, really.”
Here’s a look at the Timbermen team that will take the floor Sunday night:
The biggest change to the Timbermen offence will be extremely obvious to fans at Frank Crane Arena on Sunday. Lewis Ratcliff, instead of being in a home white T-men jersey, will be wearing the black road jersey of the visiting Thunder.
This season the Timbermen offence is expected to have greater balance.
“We’re going to really pride ourselves on a five-man offence instead of having one or two guys putting the ball in the net,” said Ranger.
Webster said he wants the offence to keep the ball hot, keep it moving.
“I don’t want the ball stuck on someone’s stick for four, five, six, seven seconds,” he said. “I want that ball in and out of our sticks as much as possible.”
Joining league MVP Ranger on offence will be veterans Kaleb Toth and Cayle Ratcliff. The T-men are expecting good things from Joel Henry after a full season of experience in the National Lacrosse League and first-round draft pick Cody Bremner is expected to be an immediate contributor. Other high draft choices Kyle Hofer and Ryan Keith will also step right into key roles.
The Timbermen’s greatest strength on defence might be its impressive depth.
The team has so many back-end/transition guys on the roster that it will be a continual battle for playing time.
“We’ve got some young guys that are going to be pushing to be out there every shift. Everyone’s going to be pushed to fill their role and it’s going to be good competition,” said Stocks.
The D isn’t that big, but it will be fast and physical, he said.
“We plan on pressuring the ball,” Stocks said. “It’s something you need to do to succeed in this league.”
He and Graham Palmer are the veteran leaders, while second-year guys Sean Nugent and Matt Wray and veteran Myles Kenny continue to improve. Other back end/tranny players include Chris O’Dougherty, Bobby Debrone and newcomer Dustin Dunn from Ontario’s Brooklin Redmen.
Matt King and Zack Boychuk return as Nanaimo’s goaltending tandem.
King is expected to be the No. 1 goalie but Webster said he wants to get Boychuk more playing time.
“If he can really step up I would like to see if I can alternate, but if not then Kinger might carry the workload,” said Webster.
The Timbermen and the Thunder play at 7 p.m. Sunday (May 20) at Frank Crane Arena. Tickets are $12 for adults, $10 for seniors and students and $5 for children five and up. For season ticket info, please click here.