The WCSLA regular season is fully underway and already two teams are trying to pull ahead of the pack. Even though the Langley Warriors suffered their first loss of the season to the Nanaimo Timbermen on the weekend, Langley and the Ladner Pioneers sit at the top of the WCSLA standings. Although Ladner has only played five games, they have one of the best goal differentials in the league (28 GF, 62 GA, +31) and are coming off a 8-5 win against Coquitlam.
Langley has assembled one of its best rosters in team history with the intentions of competing for a President’s Cup berth in Leduc, Alta. Led by veteran offensive weapons like Bryan Poole, Andrew Murphy and Derek Lowe, the Warriors lead the league with 94 goals, 23 more than the second-place Coquitlam Adanacs. They looked to add more depth in goal with the addition of Matt Morehouse for Ladner last week, but only scored five goals on the second half of a back-to-back in Nanaimo.
Both the Warriors and Pioneers have depth across the roster, but there are four other teams in the thick of the WCSLA standings who haven’t been able to separate from the pack. Only two points separate the third-place Royal City Capitals and the sixth-place Coquitlam Adanacs. One of the surprise contenders may come from the other island team that we’re not used to seeing as the expansion Victoria Wolves sport a 3-2-0-1 record through their first six games and have looked better as the games go on.
They held the Warriors to 11 goals at home in an 11-5 losing effort, but that was on the tail of a huge 13-12 overtime win over their up island Nanaimo rivals. They’ve been able to assemble a deep and talented roster, finding some Shamrocks Junior products along the way. Building a pipeline is essential to competing in this league year in and year out and Victoria seems to have figured out that blueprint. They’ve also recently acquired Devan Smith from Nanaimo’s senior A club.
Both Island teams hold the same record and the Nanaimo Timbermen have settled into the new season after being forced to bring in lots of new faces as they dealt with the Victoria expansion. Corey Shires leads the team with 11 goals through four games (although the stats at the time of posting were not updated to reflect the Langley game) and he leads a solid young core that also features guys like Andrew Miller and Devon Casey.
Royal City has been consistent throughout the year at 4-3 and have played Langley close while beating Nanaimo at home early in the season. They play on the island on June 11-12 and that will be a good test to see if they can keep putting wins together. The Caps have a balanced offence with six players scoring three or more goals and have a fairly competitive team overall. Coquitlam’s offence has a bit of a different look and Jaxon Lee currently leads the league in goals with 15.
North Shore has been active in trying to improve their roster but still are one of two teams, along with Valley, that have yet to hit the win column this season. Despite being outscored by 33 goals in the first three games, they have played both Langley and Royal City tough. With some reinforcements potentially coming in, Shore may be a surprisingly tough team to play against down the line.
Player of the month
Bryan Poole, Langley Warriors
It might be easy to pick the guy with the most points in the league, but it’s hard to ignore Poole’s production early in the season. He’s scored seven more points (13 goals, 18 assists) than his teammate Andrew Murphy and Coquitlam’s Jaxon Lee, despite playing in one less game than Lee. The Warriors have easily had the most impressive offensive performances and are the strongest offence in the league thus far.
Honourable mention to goaltender Rob Cook in Ladner as he’s stopped 86 per cent of the shots he’s faced in 180 minutes work. He’s only allowed 17 goals and is a big reason why the Pioneers haven’t lost a game yet. The Pios have also only allowed six goals on the short man and lead the WCSLA in penalty killing percentage.
Games to watch this week
Coquitlam travels to Langley to take on the Warriors in some Friday night action at the George Preston Arena. Ball drop there is at 8:00 PM. The Indians are on the island this weekend, but play the Timbermen first before heading down island to take on the Wolves. You can watch those games at the Nanaimo Ice Centre on Saturday at 6:00 PM and 5:30 PM at the Q Centre in Victoria.