The Timbermen keep tinkering and keep trying, and think they have what it takes this year.
Nanaimo’s senior A Western Lacrosse Association club begins the 2017 season today (May 25).
The T-men have missed the playoffs the past nine seasons, but have been knocking on the door, suffering a few too many narrow losses the last two years in particular.
“We’ve been improving every year since I’ve been here; now it’s time to win those one-goal games that we’re losing,” said Kaleb Toth, Timbermen coach.
Brody Eastwood, T-men forward, said the team has learned from close losses and is ready to turn those results around.
“I feel like we’ve really lacked experience the last couple years,” he said. “Sure we’re still young, but at least we have guys who’ve been in the league for two, three years now and know what it takes to be in those games.”
Conrad Chapman, Timbermen defender, said winning one-goal games will come a few different ways – hard work, buy-in, confidence, and a couple more transition goals per game.
“And just really play to our strengths, more so than we have,” he said. “We’re young and fast … we have our wheels under us, let’s just take off and go.”
The Timbermen have made quite a few additions this off-season and Chapman said it’s a group of committed lacrosse players and a bit of a different attitude in the dressing room. Toth called it a good mix.
“They’re hanging out, they’re joking around, they’re having fun and that’s what you want your lacrosse team to do. You want everyone to get along, you want them to care and work hard for the guy that’s sitting beside them in the locker room,” the coach said.
The group of forwards will be led by Eastwood on the left side and Colton Clark, Ryan Lee and rookie Chase Fraser on the right side. Eastwood is now a veteran on the Timbermen, Clark is a WLA vet who was a top scorer in his first season with his hometown team last year, Lee was the WLA Rookie of the Year in 2016 and Fraser, a rookie, was selected No. 3 overall in this past winter’s draft.
The left side also includes Jon Phillips, Dan Michel, Quinn Smith, Jake Cullen and on the right, the T-men think Matt Benedict can take another step forward.
Cody Bremner, a reliable leader up front for most of the past five seasons, isn’t expected to play this season as he considers his lacrosse future, Toth said.
The Timbermen say the defence-transition guys might have to be the backbone of the team, especially early in the season.
Tyson Roe, Chapman and Brandan Smith are the veteran leaders and No. 2-overall draft pick Nate Wade will be an important addition. Jordan Gilles is another impact guy returning from the National Lacrosse League. Returnee Jordan Cunningham, newcomers Jerrett Smith and Adam Jay, and Kyle Dexter, back after a lengthy injury absence, will be some other contributors in transition.
In goal, last year’s team MVP Pete Dubenski will be relied upon heavily, but Mike DeGirolamo will also get opportunities.
Toth said the Timbermen have been training at full tilt, so they should be able to carry that into the start of the WLA season and play with speed and intensity.
“It’s going to be exciting. It’s going to be fast paced,” Toth said. “As long as we can continue to do that and string in some wins, hopefully the fans will keep coming out.”
GAME ON … The T-men visit the New Westminster Salmonbellies tonight (May 25), then play the Langley Thunder on Sunday at 7 p.m. at Frank Crane Arena. For ticket info, visit www.tmen.ca.