NANAIMO — It's been a many months since the Senior A Timbermen made their first playoff appearance in 11 years.
Last August the Tmen made the WLA post season before losing to the Victoria Shamrocks in five games.
They take the first real step in their 2019 season Thursday with the WLA draft.
Nanaimo is used to picking in the top three but that won't be the case this year as they won't have a selection until fifth overall.
In the second round the Tmen will select 11th and 12th overall, and the club is well stocked with two picks in both the third and fourth rounds of the draft in Langley.
Team president Chris Bowman says almost the entire roster from last year is coming back, but they can improve through the draft.
"I think our biggest need is to score more goals," said Bowman. "We'll be looking at offensive players, both left left handed and right handed at five, eleven, and twelve for sure."
The consensus number one pick is Coquitlam Junior Adanacs goaltender Christian Del Bianco.
He's expected to stay in Coquitlam with the Senior Adanacs holding the first selection.
Bowman says the Timbermen will select the best player available when they make their picks from a makeshift war room on Thursday night.
They won't be limiting themselves to just Vancouver Island players.
The Timbermen have had a lot of success in the draft in the last few years, and much of that has been with mainland talent.
Nanaimo's 2018 first round pick Drew Belgrave was a WLA All Star last season.
Chase Fraser was named WLA Rookie of the Year after being picked third overall by Nanaimo in 2017,
And Jon Phillips, who led the Timbermen in scoring in 2018 with 53 points, was a second round selection in the 2017 draft.
Coach Kaleb Toth knows that now that the Timbermen have become a playoff calibre team, taking the next step to being a Mann Cup contender will be extremely challenging.
He adds that his players learned a lot about playoff lacrosse from Victoria series that should help the Tmen be a better team in 2019.
"We didn't have a lot of playoff experience so now we're going to have the confidence to go into the playoffs and be able to hopefully win a series. I think the guys believe that they can, and if we play like we did last year there's no reason we can't go further," said Toth.
Toth echoes Bowman's thoughts on needing offense, but regardless of who the Timbermen select Toth feels if they pick the right players there is WLA ready talent right through the first three rounds.
Some members of the Timbermen are hard at work in the NLL right now playing winter lacrosse.
Toth has been impressed with the likes of Chase Fraser in Buffalo and Brody Eastwood in Vancouver after seeing clips of their recent games.
It will be a few weeks yet until the non-pro players start their on floor sessions, but preparations for the WLA season have already begun.
The WLA has released the game schedule for the opening weekend of action with the Timbermen playing twice.
Nanaimo will visit Victoria on Friday May 24th, with the Timbermen home opener set for Sunday May 26th versus New Westminster.
The full WLA schedule will be released in the coming days.
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