The Delta Islanders turned to Maple Ridge and Vancouver Island to bolster their talent depth heading into the 2022 season.
The Islanders selected Jack Olson with the third overall pick in the B.C. Junior “A” Lacrosse League Draft, held Jan. 29. The Team B.C. member was one of four players Delta took from the Ridge Meadows Minor Lacrosse Association. The draft is for graduated U17 players from organizations that are not affiliated with BCJALL teams.
“We identified some needs for the squad and we targeted that through our draft picks which was left-handed transition help,” explained first-year general manager Dave Bremner. “Jack definitely does that for us. He's a tenacious left-handed defender and who can run the floor. He also has the ability to go to net and pot some big goals. So we're hoping he's going to bring that to us as a very athletic player.”
Bremner then used the 14th overall pick to select Kade Hoogstraten, an Abbotsford native who has been honing his game at the Royal Bay Lacrosse Academy in Colwood.
“He is big left-handed offensive body who is attending a good school right now,” Bremner continued. We're relying heavily on him to make the jump to junior tier one as soon as possible and start to free up some of other goal scorers.”
When the Islanders announced the addition of former WLA player Justin Doucette to their coaching staff late last year, it was made clear his previous mentorship role with Ridge Meadows Minor would be a valuable scouting asset. That was evident on draft night as Nico Medd and Curtis Doucette joined Olson as selections from the association. Curtis is Doucette’s son and gives Delta another defensive prospect.
“Curtis is a big and strong defensive-minded player, very much like his dad back in the day,” continued Bremner. “We're expecting him to come in and eventually shore up the back end for us. Nico is a right-handed offensive kid who is fast with good stick skills.”
Rounding out Delta selections were Peninsula goalie Noah DiBattista, Austin Charlton (Chilliwack) and Truman Johnson (Ridge Meadows).
Bremner added the process is underway of getting Delta back to the BCJALL playoffs for the first time since 2016 when the franchise won its first-ever championship. COVID-19 has disrupted the past two seasons, wiping out the 2020 campaign, before a limited schedule was played last summer. Everything points to a full and balanced 16-game schedule starting in May with six teams advancing to the playoffs.
“Right now, what we are trying to do is put a sense of belief in the players and I think we definitely have that. The returning players are liking the new direction and they're excited about what we have just drafted,” said Bremner. "Our veterans have reached out to the draft picks to say welcome to the team. Those are cultural kind of things that are starting to happen. It’s a great place to play lacrosse, as you know. We’re just trying to play better lacrosse, engage our fans and let the players enjoy it.
“I think your’e going to see improvements all the way around. The biggest thing is we're going to do is add competition. Whether we're playing crib or whatever it's going to be we're competing for every little thing we do and that's infectious.”