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Busy times for Islanders GM

Jamie Scott has chance to put his mark on Jr. A team

It's been three weeks since the Delta Islanders were bounced from the B.C. Junior "A" Lacrosse League playoffs and Jamie Scott has never been busier.

When the former goaltender was appointed the team's general manager in week two of the regular season, his hands were basically tied. The coaching staff was in place and the roster finalized.

Scott spent much of the 2011 campaign observing a franchise he knew little about. He did manage to complete a couple of minor of deals and wished he could have done more at the league roster deadline but found no trading partners.

Now Scott has the opportunity to put his own stamp on the team in what will arguably be the most important season in club history.

The wheels are already in motion, having completed exit meetings with on and off floor personnel. The 2012 coaching staff will be named sometime next month and will feature at least one new face.

The Islanders reached the semi-finals and managed to win a game before falling to the New West Salmonbellies. It was their deepest run in franchise history but didn't match preseason expectations.

Now the clock is ticking on the junior careers of two of their most prolific players ever.

Logan Schuss and Mike Mallory will be heading into their third and final years with the club. The dynamic scorers have the ability to dominate games and both want nothing more than to lead the team to a Minto Cup national championship. Whether Delta will be in such a position will be determined over the next several months.

Although the team has lost some key 21-year-olds to graduation, including goaltender Blake Duncan, captain Ryan Keith and Mike Berekoff, there is an impressive group of intermediates on the way up.

Eli McLaughlin, Ray Calderwood, Sam Clare and Mike Henry will provide scoring punch and then some, while Mike Donaldson heads a group of defensive specialists.

"We will have a very good structure in place and really are in better shape than both (league finalists) Coquitlam and New West," said Scott. "I think we will have more than enough scorers and it's up to me to find those players for other aspects of the game, those role players that we have been lacking."

Topping Scott's priority list is finding a replacement for Duncan and he said he would search across the country to come up with a bonafide number one stopper.

The Islanders do have some excellent talent graduating from the Midget level but Scott said it's too big of a leap for 17-year-olds to take on a huge workload at the junior "A" level.

"Honestly, I did that for five years (playing junior 'A') and it's something I wouldn't recommend," said Scott, the former Tri-City Bandit goaltender who gave the Ladner Pioneers fits over the years. "Given the position we hope to be in, we really need an experienced goalie."

Schuss returned from Ohio State University to play the final nine regular season games and the playoffs. His availability will be the same again next year and the team will need to be in a better position without him to earn a more favourable playoff seed.

"Other teams are able to do it so it really is no excuse," added Scott. "Coquitlam was in the same position with (Robert) Church and they still rolled along."

mbooth@delta-optimist.com