THE Nanaimo Timbermen are getting off to a running start at training camp.
The city’s B.C. Junior A Lacrosse League club officially opened camp last week, though the team had already been holding informal practices during the past few weeks.
“At this point in time, fitness is No. 1 and we told them from the get-go,” said Tyson Leies, the team’s coach. “Some kids look fit, other kids don’t look fit and we’ll obviously make that a priority when it comes down to whether they’re going to sign a card or not.”
Numbers at camp are still low for the junior A squad, but that’s an annual challenge as guys are still away at school at this time of year. Leies expects most players to report in early May, with a few more late-comers in mid-May. In the meantime, intermediate A roster numbers are excellent – that program had 38 players at practice Thursday – and some of those prospects will get opportunities to play up with the juniors.
“We’re going to weather the storm for the first three or four games until our kids come back,” he said, adding that he’ll be satisfied if the team can be at or near .500 during that span.
From what Leies can tell so far, he thinks the junior A T-men have potential to be better in transition this season, and he’s confident that the offence is “top-four” in the league as far as talent goes.
“We know we can put the ball in the net,” he said.
The juniors, who have missed the playoffs the last four seasons, are continuing to try to create the right kind of culture. Players have to coachable, said Leies, and commitment is critical.
“We want guys that want to make this program better and want to win,” he said.
In other news, the junior A Timbermen announced the signing of two new players, Kyle Pauwels and Jake Latin.
Pauwels was a high-scoring forward in junior B in 2015, tallying 28 goals in six games with the Kamloops Venom. He went on to university ball this past season at Pfeiffer University in North Carolina, where he amassed 40 goals and 15 assists in 15 games.
Latin played junior A with the New Westminster Salmonbellies in 2014 and is described as an energy guy who is capable of playing different positions.