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McCulley adds to Shamrocks potent offence

The Victoria Shamrocks have been boosted by forwards Chris Wardle and Brad McCulley returning from the pro National Lacrosse League final, where Wardle’s Colorado Mammoth defeated McCulley’s Buffalo Bandits.
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Brad McCulley and the Shamrocks visit Nanaimo on Thursday. (DARREN STONE, TIMES COLONIST)

The Victoria Shamrocks have been boosted by forwards Chris Wardle and Brad McCulley returning from the pro National Lacrosse League final, where Wardle’s Colorado Mammoth defeated McCulley’s Buffalo Bandits.

Not that the classy Wardle, 30, has been flaunting it.

“It’s more the other guys have been giving me the gears,” chuckled McCulley, of the good-natured ribbing in the ­Shamrocks locker-room.

“Chris is an awesome guy and a veteran who deserved this one for his great career. I was a rookie soaking it all in and ­learning so much on a ­tremendous Buffalo team and hoping to take that ­information to elevate my game for the future.”

Wardle and McCulley both scored in their return to the Shamrocks last week in the 12-8 Western Lacrosse Association victory over the Nanaimo ­Timbermen at The Q Centre. The Island derby continues tonight at Frank Crane Arena in the Harbour City (7:30 p.m. on Shaw-TV).

It’s been a long journey to get former Junior Shamrocks star McCulley into a senior Shamrocks jersey. The former Robert Morris University standout, who led the Colonials into the 2018 and 2019 NCAA Div. 1 tournaments, was selected ninth overall by Buffalo in the 2020 NLL draft. McCulley went third overall to the Langley Thunder in the 2019 WLA draft and had an outstanding rookie season in leading the Thunder in scoring with 17 goals and 37 assists.

As a constant call-up while with the Junior Shamrocks, the senior Shamrocks loved ­McCulley’s game, and coveted him. They finally landed him in a trade with the Thunder in 2020. But then came the pandemic, wiping out the 2020 and 2021 WLA seasons.

“I grew up watching the Shamrocks at The Q Centre and it’s always been a dream of mine to put on the green jersey as a permanent player and it’s been a long time getting here,” said McCulley.

It came after being drafted by the Thunder and then the two dark pandemic seasons.

“It has required patience,” said McCulley.

Now he aims to prove to the Shamrocks the wait has been worth it.

Victoria is 6-1 and Nanaimo 5-5 heading into the back end of the WLA Island derby tonight.

“It’s the Island rivalry and it’s lots of fun,” said McCulley.

“A lot of us played junior together and know each other and see each other around town. But when we put the helmet on, it’s a different story.”

cdheensaw@timescolonist.com