Sports

Shamrocks hope for top-Island talent at WLA draft

Junior Shamrock grad Ben Stebbins, top, is on the fence as a pick for Monday’s WLA draft.  - Greg Sakaki/Black Press
Junior Shamrock grad Ben Stebbins, top, is on the fence as a pick for Monday’s WLA draft.
— image credit: Greg Sakaki/Black Press

Draft day is near and decision time is always complicated for the Victoria Shamrocks.

The annual Western Lacrosse Association junior draft is in Burnaby on Monday (Feb. 6) and this year’s crop of graduating B.C. Junior Lacrosse League players is a good one.

Four players stand out on the Island, all originally from Victoria, said Junior Shamrocks general manager Rod Wood.

Cody Bremner (Nanaimo Timbermen) and Karsen Leung (Shamrocks) are likely to go in the first round, followed by Casey Jackson (Coquitlam Adanacs) and Kyle Hofer (Timbermen).

Few players in the draft have the talent of Bremner and Leung, however, and the question for Shamrocks fans is whether either of them make it to sixth overall, when Shamrocks general manager Chris Welch makes his team’s first-round pick.

The Shamrocks don’t have a pick in the second round, but do have three in the third round, including the 16th pick (from Burnaby), the 18th pick (from Langley), their own at 19th, and the 27th overall pick in the fourth and final round.

“There’s so much talent coming out of the Mainland, there’s a good chance Bremner and Leung (not necessarily in that order) could go to Victoria and Nanaimo (seventh) in the first round,” Wood said.

Transition stud Travis Cornwall of the Minto Cup-winning Coquitlam Adanacs is the general consensus to go No. 1. He was the first player from B.C. to go in the 2011 NLL Entry Draft, seventh overall to the Calgary Roughnecks.

He is followed by offensive stars Mark Negrin of the New Westminster Salmonbellies, Logan Schuss of the Delta Islanders and Jaxson Lee of the Burnaby Lakers. There’s also defender Travis Irving of the Salmonbellies, among others.

A few Victoria players have a dark horse chance to get drafted on Monday.

Ben Stebbins, Austin Powell, Luke Acton, Tyler Matheson, Mitch Meilleur and Curtis McKinnon have all played their last year of junior.

Stebbins, a big kid who moves fast and plays with tenacity, has fallen off the radar a little bit and could go in the second round, Wood said. “At one point the (NLL) Washington Stealth were interested, but passed him up.”

The other player teams will like is Powell, who won the Jr. Shamrocks’ 2011 defensive player of the year award as a 21-year-old box lacrosse rookie. A field lacrosse player from San Diego, Powell plays with Leung at Bellarmine University (Kentucky) and is good on faceoffs.

“Powell said recently if he’s drafted to the WLA he’ll come back and play,” Wood said.

“Acton will probably get looked at, but has said he’d like to return to Saskatchewan, so it’s unlikely he’ll get drafted,” Wood said.


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