At the back-end, rookie Alex Wagner has stepped in admirably for goaltender David Rock, despite showing up at tryouts looking to secure a spot as a long-poleman. An accomplished field lacrosse official, Wagner possesses a great feel for the game, an attribute that has helped him make the transition in net.
The graduation of Sam Elder on defence has been offset both by the return of sophomore Chris Browne as well as the addition of both Bob Pollock and Cameron Genge, giving coach George Sheppard three solid long poles to build around.
That said, Sheppard might well be most excited about his glut of “middies,” with the Voyageurs now capable of fielding two very solid lines. One of the league’s top faceoff specialists last year, Paul Jelley has improved his stick skills to the point of seeing regular duty in the midfield.
“He’s a key player on this team,” coach Sheppard said. “If he starts to get beat (on faceoffs), he figures out what they’re doing and adjusts.”
Matt Kussmann and Phil Romanet provide some experience through the middle, along with the return of Jon Van der Geissen, who stepped away from the sport last year.
Up front, the Laurentian side will feature one of Canadian University Field Lacrosse Association's (CUFLA) leading scorers in Clint Lamarsh, now in his fourth year with the program.
“He’s really lacrosse smart, he’s not afraid to drive the net and he shoots,” Sheppard said. “That makes him dangerous.”
An alumnus of the well-respected McMaster Marauders lacrosse program, coach Sheppard is cautiously optimistic entering a new season of play.
“We have smaller numbers than last year, we lost some important guys, but we got some people to fill in, and the guys who remained are stronger than they were last year,” he said. “We have some really good lacrosse players. I would hope for better than last year.”
Laurentian will take its record of 1-2 into a pair of home games this coming weekend, hosting the powerful University of Western Ontario Mustangs on both Saturday and Sunday at 2 p.m. at L.U.