Tmen Season Preview from NanaimoNewsNow
The Western Lacrosse Association season begins this week for the Timbermen.
The Tmen will kick off the campaign against the New Westminster Salmonbellies on the road Thursday before hosting the Langley Thunder on Sunday night.
Last season Nanaimo finished in sixth place with a 4-14 record.
Six of the team's losses were by one goal and the hope for 2017 is the experience gained from those setbacks will lead to a lot more more wins.
Since the Timbermen returned to the WLA in 2005 they've made the playoffs only once.
Coach Kaleb Toth is preaching a one game at a time approach to his players but he does feel a post season berth is realistic.
"Anybody can win at any time in this league," Toth said. "Getting into the playoffs we've got an athletic team that might be able to make a deep run. Time will tell, but we'll know where we are half way through the year and we'll just have to try to get better every single day."
At the WLA Draft in February Nanaimo added a total of 13 players.
Most importantly will be the additions of Nate Wade, Chase Fraser, and Jon Phillips who were taken second, third, and ninth overall respectively.
Toth is anticipating three or four of those draft picks to be in the line up for the first week of the season but that is dependent on school commitments.
The last practice before the season opener took place Tuesday night at Frank Crane Arena and the head coach likes what he sees in the early going.
"Guys look fit, they're running the floor well. We're doing the right things. The last couple of years they've learned, they've matured. Now it's time to fight for a playoff spot," said Toth.
There will be several regulars missing from the Nanaimo lineup this week because of NLL and NCAA field lacrosse playoffs but their opponents will be in the same predicament.
Perhaps the most significant loss is 2016 WLA rookie of the year Ryan Lee.
His NCAA team at the Rochester Institute of Technology is preparing for the national championship game against Salisbury on Sunday.
Nanaimo's leading scorer from last year hast been a huge part of the RIT offense, including nine points in the national semi final last weekend.
Outside of Ryan Lee Nanaimo's offense will likely have to come by committee.
Last year's second leading scorer Colton Clark is back in the fold this year, but six year vet Cody Bremner is not on the active roster right now.
The Tmen should be strong defensively with the 2016 goalie tandem of Pete Dubenski and Mike DeGirolamo back between the pipes and key veterans like Jordan Gilles, Conrad Chapman, and Tyson Roe on the back end.
Thursday's season opener is a 7 p.m. start at Queen's Park with Nanaimo's home opener Sunday at 7 p.m. at Frank Crane Arena.