Sports

Junior Thunder readying for season

They didn’t get everyone they wanted, but the Langley Junior Thunder are pretty happy with the four players they did pick up from Sunday’s B.C. Junior A Lacrosse League junior draft.

The Thunder selected a familiar face with their first round pick, taking Connor McNeill with the fourth overall selection.

“He is a strong, physically mature young man,” said Thunder general manager Brock Rose, adding it is hard to find left-handed offensive players.

“Connor has great stick skills, good speed and is expected to be an excellent playmaker on the right side on offence for years to come.

“We have coveted him for a while, we feel he is going to develop and knows the kids here already so he is well versed with them,” Rose added.

McNeill plays his box lacrosse in Chilliwack, but with no field program in his hometown, he has played for the Langley Minor Lacrosse Association program the past few years.

The Thunder had a second first round pick — sixth overall — but with the player they wanted already taken, Rose shipped the pick to Victoria in exchange for a fifth rounder in the draft and first and fourth-rounders in 2015.

“I look at the first round picks in these drafts as kids that have got to be ready to start right now and maybe potentially ready to make a junior A team,” Rose said. “We sized it up and … felt that grabbing a first rounder next year was better than keeping a first rounder this year.,”

This year’s draft — which was for players born in 1997 — was top heavy on Vancouver Island players in the first three rounds. Five of the eight in the first round are from Vancouver Island and another six went in rounds two and three.

By comparison, the 2015 draft will have more top-end Lower Mainland players, Rose said.

Langley had traded away its second and third round picks in the draft when they loaded up at last season’s trade deadline.

The team picked transition player Zach Van De Leur of Surrey in the fourth round. He plays his box lacrosse in Langley but his field with Surrey.

“He is a gritty defender (who) can be offensively gifted at times and he can defend as well,” Rose said. “He is certainly a mean-spirited defender and you can never have too many of those.”

Langley drafted Vancouver’s Wesley Lo in the fifth round. The right-handed offensive player was worthy of being a second round pick in Rose’s estimation.

And with the team’s final choice, they drafted Chilliwack’s Brendan Murphy in the sixth round.

The team also added New Westminster’s Stefan Cirillo to complete an earlier trade.

The Thunder will begin training next month with the season set to start at the end of April.

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