Repeating as Western Lacrosse Association champions

Shamrocks’ star power only slightly less bright

Loss of big-name players for 2016 means spots opened up for hard-working reserves on Victoria lacrosse club

They say defending a championship is one of the toughest things to do in high-level sports.

Victoria Shamrocks head coach Bob Heyes, whose team opens its Western Lacrosse Association title defence Friday night against Nanaimo at The Q Centre, knows as much. He said the 2015 Mann Cup champions will be a “different team” this season without such big-stage veterans as Dan Dawson, Aaron Bold, Daryl Veltman and Steve Priolo in the lineup, not to mention losing captain Scott Ranger to retirement. Nonetheless, the ’Rocks will have a target on their backs, he said.

“We’re still going to be a team to be reckoned with and we’re going to be challenged every night, because everyone’s going to want to knock off the reigning Mann Cup champs,” Heyes said.

With such offensive stars as Corey Small and Rhys Duch – who signed this week – plus Cory Conway and eventually Jesse King back in the fold, and a core group of defenders and transition players who helped the team win the national title in September, the Shamrocks will be no slouch.

The team was built last year for making a run at the Mann Cup, with the west hosting the championship series. That said, Heyes looks at his returnees and recent signees, such as former Shamrock sniper Jeff Shattler and veteran WLA defender Myles Kenny, as giving the club a good chance at making another deep run.

“We’re still going to have a very good team and our goal is still to get to the playoffs, win the playoffs, get to the Mann Cup and go from there,” Heyes said.

The beginning of the season is often a time when WLA clubs scramble to put enough players on the bench, with many winding up their National Lacrosse League professional seasons.

Victoria is no different, with four of its players still committed to the Calgary Roughnecks – who are in the midst of the NLL playoffs – and King finishing off his studies at Ohio State University and playing pro field lacrosse in Rochester, N.Y.

On Tuesday, Heyes voiced a little concern about having enough quality players for the opener. He admitted, however, that the holes in the lineup, both from committed Shamrocks and the non-returning stars, have left spots open for some players who might have been on the outside looking in during last year’s championship run.

While no affiliation is in place yet, he foresees establishing some form of connection with the senior B Victoria Wolves down the road, once that West Coast League expansion club finds its footing and establishes its own identity.

In general, Heyes said, the Shamrocks are ready to dive headfirst into the new season.

“We know we’re going to be a different-looking team, but the guys who are out will play with that same drive and pride,” he said, and give the fans plenty to cheer about.

Game time Friday is 7:45 p.m. and a large crowd is expected for the pre-game Mann Cup banner-raising ceremonies. For more information or to buy tickets online, visit victoriashamrocks.com.

editor@goldstreamgazette.com

Just Posted

Langford’s Sarah Beckett Memorial playground opens

Life of West Shore RCMP Constable honoured with new playground

Improvements to Sinclair Road coming

Development comes after Cadboro Bay Residents Association (CBRA) raised concerns

Saanich councillor open to more commercial operations in local parks

Coun. Ned Taylor had raised the issue during his election campaign

Search for missing Saanich Peninsula pair ends in tragedy

Vehicle found with two deceased occupants inside

Team Canada set to compete at 2019 Rugby World Cup and Tokyo 2020 Olympics

Rugby Canada’s training centre in Langford prepares athletes for the international stage

VIDEO: Ride to Conquer Cancer rolls into Hope

Thousands of cyclist descend on small town for annual cancer fundraiser

VIDEO: Ride to Conquer Cancer rolls into Hope

Thousands of cyclist descend on small town for annual cancer fundraiser

Island murder victim’s mom expresses outrage over mental fitness decision of the accused

Smith vows to keep fighting until justice served for Descoteau

B.C. VIEWS: Pipelines set to roll as federal politicians posture

Projects to drive B.C., Canadian economy in years ahead

B.C. Lions fall to 1-9 after 13-10 loss to Ticats

Lowly Leos have dropped six straight CFL contests

VIDEO: B.C. woman meets biological mother, 38 years later

Mother never gave up hope of finding daughter, despite all the obstacles

B.C. man who died after rescuing swimmer was known for helping others

Shaun Nugent described as a dad, a coach, a hero and ‘stand-up guy’ at celebration of life

B.C. RCMP plane chases fleeing helicopter as part of major cross-border drug bust

The helicopter eventually landed at a rural property near Chilliwack

Vancouver Island man dead after reported hit-and-run incident

Oceanside RCMP seek public’s help gathering information

Most Read