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Ladner Pioneers getting ready for first season in three years

Graduated junior players are encouraged to come out to the team's first practice later this month in Tsawwassen
Ryan Benesch
Ontario native Ryan Benesch, who ranks third all-time in National Lacrosse League scoring, will be returning to the Ladner Pioneers for the coming West Coast Senior Lacrosse Association season.

The West Coast Senior Lacrosse Association (WCSLA) will be back this spring after a two-year COVID-related hiatus with a much different look. It will be business as usual, however, for the defending champions.

The Ladner Pioneers will launch pre-season training  April 19th at the South Delta Rec. Centre in Tsawwassen with longtime head coach Ross Frehlick welcoming any potential new players.

Since the last time there was a competitive lacrosse camapign, there have been three years worth of junior graduating classes (2019 to 2021) and as many Western Lacrosse Association Drafts (2020 to 2022).

“We haven’t played in a couple of years and we want to reach out to all the players who have graduated since,” said Frehlick. “When you look at WLA training camps, there are going to be a lot of draft picks coming out and only so many roster spots open.”

Frehlick isn’t wasting anytime in putting his team together. One of the most prolific scorers in the history of the National Lacrosse League (NLL) is returning to Ladner.

Ontario native Ryan Benesch wants to spend another summer on the west coast. The 37-year-old currently has 70 points in 16 games with the NLL’s Albany Firewolves and is third all-time in league scoring with 1,146 points over 16 seasons.

The last time he was in a Pioneers’ uniform he was fourth in tournament scoring at the 2019 President’s Cup national championship, averaging six points per game.

“We’re pretty excited to be getting him back,” said Frehlick. “He really liked it here and he’s telling all his buddies how good of a time he had and all that kind of stuff.”

Two more recent signings have a lot to do with what teams are playing in the WCSLA this coming season.

The Nanaimo Timbermen decided to take a one-year hiatus as they get their management situation sorted out. That led to Ladner signing their top two scorers from 2019, Corey Shires and Jake Michelson. They combined for 44 goals and 62 assists.

Langley is also on a hiatus and the league held a dispersal draft of its players. The Pioneers selected Ian Poole and Nathan Henare.

Frehlick added more player signings are pending in the days ahead.

The league also welcomes back the North Shore Indians who got a head start on their return with an exhibition series against Ladner last summer. The Coquitlam franchise has re-located to Port Coquitlam.