IslandSavings Pre-Game Report: May 26th vs. Langley
The Victoria Shamrocks lineup in 2023 features many new faces, especially young Island players, who will be making their debuts tonight including Patrick Dodds, Denton Macdonald, Tom Vaesen, Max Wilson and Brian Robb. Others expected to debut soon include Casey Wilson and Arthur Miller. Not all the new faces are local like Bennett Smith from Edmonton who was a standout performer at the 2022 Minto Cup, but some may be very familiar to fans of the Junior A Shamrocks like goaltender Cam Dunkerley. With Dunkerley and Dodds, the Shamrocks lineup features the last two recipients of the BCJALL MVP award. WLA veteran Lyndon Bunio who was picked up in a trade with the New Westminster Salmonbellies also makes his Shamrocks debut tonight.
As bright as the future is looking with the influx of new talent, Shamrocks fans will notice a few veteran players missing, such as Rhys Duch and Ben McCullough, both of whom retired after the 2022 season. Jesse King is playing professional field lacrosse this summer and Tyler Burton and his young family have relocated to Alberta, so the Shamrocks have some big shoes to fill in their absences. But those absences create opportunities for others, and it will be exciting to watch a new group of players establishing their place in the great history of the Shamrocks.
Several key veteran players are making their returns to the Shamrocks lineup tonight including team captain Matt Yager, Jacob Ruest, Derek Lloyd, Cole Pickup and Pete Dubenski along with two players from the 2019 team, Adrian Sorichetti and Ryan McLean. More veterans will be returning in the coming weeks.
Tonight’s visitors are the defending WLA champions who came close to winning the Mann Cup last year in Peterborough and appear determined to get over the hump this year. The Thunder went into the third period of game seven tied with the Peterborough Lakers but came up just short of becoming the first team to win the national championship on the road since 1995. They have kept the team together this year and are the early favourite to host the Mann Cup in September. However, there are six other teams in the WLA, including the Shamrocks, who will have a say in that and no team has ever won anything on paper. That said, the loaded Thunder team presents a daunting challenge to a young Shamrocks lineup who are eager for the opportunity .