Victoria Shamrocks soldier on without key players

It’s that time of the season for lacrosse roulette.

This transition phase has Western Lacrosse Association players returning in drips and drops from their professional teams in the National Lacrosse League and from NCAA U.S. collegiate field lacrosse.

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It deeply affects the early part of the WLA season.

Depending on how fast they can book flights across the Rockies to The Q Centre for tonight’s game at 6 p.m., the Victoria Shamrocks and Langley Thunder might not have several key players in the lineup.

Both teams are missing players to the 2019 NLL playoff final. Shamrocks performers Jesse King, Rhys Duch, Greg Harnett and Tyler Burton are with the Calgary Roughnecks and Steve Priolo with the Buffalo Bandits. The Thunder have Tyler Pace and NLL MVP Dane Dobbie with the Roughnecks, who won the NLL championship on Saturday night 14-13 in overtime in Game 2 to sweep their best-of-three final series 2-0 against Buffalo.

“There’s an outside chance we could have some of those players back in time [tonight],” said Shamrocks head coach Bob Heyes.

“A guy like Jesse King creates so much space,” added Heyes, about the importance of getting a full roster as soon as possible.

The Shamrocks, meanwhile, have Tyson Gibson and Danny Smith returning today from NCAA Div. 1 field lacrosse at Robert Morris University in Pittsburgh. The Thunder have former Victoria Junior Shamrocks star Brad McCulley returning from Robert Morris. Langley selected McCulley in the first round of the 2019 WLA draft.

The Shamrocks can only hope McCulley doesn’t pull a Braylon Lumb. Former Junior Shamrocks sniper Lumb, selected in the first round of the 2019 WLA draft by the Nanaimo Timbermen, scored twice against the Shamrocks in the shock 11-6 Island derby loss Friday at The Q Centre, to open the season.

Heyes called for more “focus and intensity” from his charges today.

Langley opened its season with a loss at Queen’s Park Arena in New Westminster to the Salmonbellies.

Nanaimo, meanwhile, will try to build on their opening-night victory against the Shamrocks when they host the Salmonbellies tonight at Frank Crane Arena.

cdheensaw@timescolonist.com

BOXLA BITS: The Shamrocks acquired goaltender Peter Dubenski from the Timbermen on Saturday in return for Victoria’s third-round pick in the 2020 WLA draft.

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