Speed was the deciding factor as the Victoria Shamrocks picked homegrown talent Karsen Leung from the junior Shamrocks in the first round of the Western Lacrosse Association draft on Monday.
Leung went sixth overall, one of three players from Victoria who went in the first round. Casey Jackson (Coquitlam Adanacs) was third overall and Cody Bremner (Nanaimo Timbermen) went seventh.
Shamrocks general manager Chris Welch said he and his staff debated who to take at sixth – Leung or Bremner. Both are talented field lacrosse players in the NCAA, who came out of Claremont secondary but played on different junior teams. Leung is an all-star transition player with a ton of speed and offensive capability. Bremner is a gritty goal-scorer with a great shot, unafraid to take a hit to get to the front of the net.
“The game today is all about speed and athleticism, and Leung brings that in spades,” Welch said. “We would’ve liked Casey too,” Welch said. “Obviously he wasn’t available to us. Our choice was Leung or Bremner, to take nothing away from Bremner. He’s a bright young player, with a gritty low post game.
“Leung’s been a call-up to the (senior) Shamrocks the last couple of years, and has been identified for a while as a blue chip prospect.”
Going first overall was another transition player, Travis Cornwall, selected by the senior Coquitlam Adanacs from the junior Adanacs. Picking second and third, the Burnaby Lakers doubled up on Jacksons, taking Jackson Decker from the Jr. Lakers and one-time Jr. Shamrock Casey Jackson from Coquitlam, respectively.
The Shamrocks were without a pick in the second round but chose twice in the third, taking Michael Krgovich from the Jr. Adanacs and Mitch McLaren from the Saanich Jr. B Tigers.
“We couldn’t let Krgovich fall any further in the draft with that type of pedigree,” Welch said. “We know there’s a chance Krgovich will take a year or two off of lacrosse. But he was the captain of Minto Cup finalist Adanacs in 2011, a major responsibility under (Ads) coach Curt Malawsky, and we like that.”
McLaren was once in the pipeline for a junior-A career but fell out of favour due to philosophical differences with his junior-A team, Welch said.
Leung and McLaren are different players who will both have a chance to step into the transition role this summer as rookie stud Andrew Suitor has committed to playing in his native Ontario after one year in Victoria.
“We think (McLaren’s) one of the top defensive transition guys in the draft, a guy that can bring some of the things we lose with Suitor. He’s not a pugilistic player but he’s a battler and feisty player.”
The Shamrocks picked up a pair of Claremont graduates in the fourth round who went elsewhere for junior-A, Asahel Beaudet from Nanaimo and Steve Higgs from the Delta Islanders.
Late in the draft, Victoria products Jake Ryan and Liam Kelly were taken. The Rocks’ last pick was Jr. Shamrocks defender of the year in 2011, Austin Powell, who hails from San Diego and plays NCAA lacrosse with Leung for Bellarmine University in Kentucky.
Nanaimo selected Victoria’s Tyler Matheson in the second round. The Jr. Shamrocks grad gets a chance to reunite with Bremner. The two were once junior-A hockey teammates with the Victoria Grizzlies.
The Shamrocks also made two trades during the draft. In their first deal, they moved one of their three third round picks in this year’s draft and a fourth round pick in 2014 to Langley in exchange for a fourth round pick this year and a third round pick in 2014.
In the other deal, they swapped their fifth round pick in this year’s draft to the New Westminster Salmonbellies in exchange for the Bellies’ fifth round pick next year.
Clover in the family
The Shamrocks also announced re-hiring Jordan Sundher as an assistant coach for the 2012 season. Sundher recently stepped down from the head coaching position of the junior Shamrocks citing work commitments.