He made his list and he checked it twice, and when Warriors GM Dan Richardson handed his roster over to the league, he didn’t care who was naughty or nice, he only wanted true Warriors for the team’s sophomore season in downtown Vancouver.
After a fruitful month long training camp that included 10 practices and scrimmages against San Diego and Saskatchewan, Richardson, coach Chris Gill and the rest of the staff finalized their roster Monday morning just in time for Friday night’s season opener against Calgary at Rogers Arena.
The final releases were lefty forward Jon Phillips, and defenders Marcus Minichiello and Brent Adams.
… Oh and BizNasty and his short lived PTO.
That leaves the Warriors with 21 healthy and active players to start the season, including 13 returning bodies and 8 new ones.
The offence will feature 2 new players, both BC boys with big game experience.
Mike Mallory joins 30-goal scorers Keegan Bal and Jordan McBride on the right side. The former BC Junior ‘A’ League MVP is a bit of a meaner compliment to Bal and McBride. With a nasty edge honed by the Maple Ridge Burrards of the WLA, Mallory has the ability to make plays, finish and stand up for his teammates.
“The first weekend it was unbelievable how good those three were,” Gill said of the righty trio. “It was amazing how they meshed together. Mallory is smart player. He knows the plays we’re going to run. He’s exactly where we thought he’d be.”
Free agent Riley Loewen will round out the forward group with Mitch Jones and Logan Schuss. Fresh off a championship season with Calgary, Loewen was as advertised throughout camp and is expected to play a big role picking and popping with the lefties.
“Loewen’s been so good for that left side already,” said Gill. “He’s not a real vocal guy, but when he says something, people listen. Coming off the floor, if something doesn’t go his way, he doesn’t complain. He doesn’t yell at the refs and get into chirping with the opposing defense. He just does his work and does it really well.”
Out the back gate, the Warriors will roll out 6 new faces, including 3 rookies.
52nd overall draft-pick Derek Lloyd is a 5’9” spark plug that brings speed and energy. “He’s a little pit bull out there,” said coach. “Muscles on top of muscles. He doesn’t get pushed around; he’s quick and has a great stick coming across.”
25 year-old undrafted rookie Sam Clare gives the team a little more Ladner, which is always a good thing. The coaches didn’t really know what to expect out of Clare, but he improved every weekend of camp and brings more speed, athleticism and upside to the team.
And 6’5”, 29 year-old rookie Patrick O’Meara who has spent some time on Calgary’s practice roster over the years, finally has himself an active NLL role. “For Patty it’s just a matter of sticking to the grindstone, dialing in his play and limiting mistakes,” said Gill.
Veteran Chris O’Dougherty returns after missing all of last season with a torn Achilles. He shook off some rust playing with Team USA at this summer’s World Indoor Lacrosse Championship and slid seamlessly back into the lineup, picking up on Gill’s system with his heady X and O lacrosse IQ.
3 time NLL champion Nik Bilic, acquired via trade from Sask, brought the intensity whether it was inter-squad or scrimmaging opponents through camp. With no off switch, Bilic forced everyone to match his ferocity. “That’s what we need on this team,” said Gill. “He’s a veteran, won championships, plays hardnosed and isn’t afraid to run the floor or drop the gloves. I think this is going to be a chance to elevate his game even more. Our back end is a lot deeper than it’s been.”
34 year-old face-off specialist Bobby Snider signed in free agency will join returning D-guys Matt Beers, Justin Salt, Ian Hawksbee, Tyler Codron, Brandon Goodwin, Owen Barker and James Rahe. The latter two really impressed Gill during camp.
“Barker wanted to prove himself this year,” said Gill. I told him there were guys that were trying to take his spot and he took it personally. I’ve never seen him so fit. He showed really well in our scrimmages and he’s not taking anything for granted.”
“James Rahe might have been the most consistent guy at camp. He’s got upside because he can play all over. He’s the got the green light every day to run. We talked about working on speed and fitness and he’s done that. He could be a stud in this league.”
The goaltending tandem hasn’t changed from a year ago. 26 year old EP61 Eric Penney is rounding into his prime, and vet Aaron Bold (2016 NLL Finals MVP) is back for his second season with the club.
Defenders Mason Pynn, Zack Porter and third goalie Andrew Gallant will start on the injured-reserve list, while gritty vet Joel McCready, still on IR from last season, missed camp but should be ready in the New Year for added depth at either end of the floor.
The four-man practice roster is also jacked with hungry players who are expected to be able to step in and contribute. Defenders Tyson Roe and Reid Mydske both have NLL experience, while 67th overall draft pick Keegan Bell, who was projected to go much higher in the draft, wants to prove his worth to the club as on offensive righty option. Undrafted rookie Lyndon Bunio will be the team’s fourth lefty after a truly impressive camp.
“He just worked his butt off,” said Gill. “He had defenders on our team pissed at him, they hated playing against him. He had defenders on San Diego and Saskatchewan who wanted to kill him. At the end of the day, that means you’re doing something right.”
The 2020 Vancouver Warriors promise to be deeper, bigger, nastier and more athletic than the 5-13 club they were a year ago. The good news is we don’t have to wait long to see it all come together.
The Vancouver Warriors open their season on November 29 at Rogers Arena against the visiting Calgary Roughnecks. Season memberships are available starting from $135 all-in and single game tickets are available for as low as $19.95. For tickets, check out ticketmaster.ca and call 604-899-4625 (Option 3) or visit www.vancouverwarriors.com/tickets for all of our ticket options.