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Warriors aim to get look at what future might hold in season finale

Warriors GM Dan Richardson pledges to play youngsters against San Diego with playoffs already out of reach.

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The Vancouver Warriors will close out their National Lacrosse League campaign this weekend aiming to get an early look at next year.

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General manager Dan Richardson says that the Warriors plan on playing some of their newer, younger players in their regular-season finale Saturday against the San Diego Seals (9-8) at Rogers Arena. That’s expected to include Thomas Semple, a 22-year-old right handed forward from Coquitlam that Vancouver just signed after he was released by the Georgia Swarm, and Keegan Bell, a 25-year-old defender from Port Coquitlam who has played one game with Vancouver this season and spent the rest of the campaign on the practice roster.

The Warriors (6-11) are missing the playoffs for the sixth time in seven seasons. And that doesn’t include the 2019-20 campaign, which the NLL shut down early due to COVID-19 with Vancouver sitting at 4-9.

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“We need to look at what we have here,” said Richardson. “We need to start setting ourselves up for next season.”


NEXT GAME

Saturday

San Diego Seals vs. Vancouver Warriors

7 p.m., Rogers Arena. Online: tsn.ca


Vancouver has been without top player Mitch Jones (foot surgery) for all but four games this year. Richardson had talked earlier about Jones possibly playing this week if Vancouver was still in playoff contention but says that they don’t want to risk it now. 

Jones, a 30-year-old lefty forward, was second in NLL scoring with 74 points, including 27 goals, in 13 games when the league called off the 2019-20 season.

The 5-foot-8, 195 pound Semple played three games with the Swarm this season but was used mainly as a defender. He had one goal and three points. Georgia landed him with a second-round pick, No. 30 overall, in the 2021 NLL Draft. The NLL announced on April 15 that the Swarm (9-8), who are front-runners for one of the two remaining NLL playoff spots up for grabs this weekend, had released him and that the Warriors had signed him. 

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He had played forward with the Coquitlam Jr. Adanacs in the 2019 summer season and produced 27 goals and 57 points in 16 regular-season games.

The 6-foot-5, 210 pound Bell was a fifth-round pick of the Warriors in the 2019 NLL Draft as a forward. They switched him to defence this year, and he played there much of the season in the Arena Lacrosse League, a four-team farm system for the NLL based out of the Langley Events Centre. Bell suited-up for a Feb. 18 game for the Warriors against the host Calgary Roughnecks.

The Warriors, who have lost eight of their last nine after starting the season 5-3, do have one of the league’s better young players in rookie-of-the-year candidate Reid Bowering, a 23-year-old defender. The 6-foot, 190-pounder from Coquitlam, who was the second overall draft selection in 2020, goes into the weekend third in the league in loose balls (191) and tied for fifth in goals-by-a-defender (12).

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The NLL record for loose balls for a rookie is 214, set by Brodie Merrill in 2006 with the Portland LumberJax. The Warriors’ franchise record for loose balls in a season is 202, set by Bob Snider in 2012. Bowering’s single-game season high this year is 16 loose balls, a total he hit Jan. 7 at home against the Colorado Mammoth and then March 25 at home against San Diego.

The other rookie-of-the-year candidate of note is New York Riptide forward Jeff Teat, who’s third in league scoring (103 points). The Riptide (6-11) are also out of the playoffs.

Vancouver righty forward Keegan Bal, 30, is seventh in league scoring (95 points) and tied for third in goals (42). The team record for goals in a season is 48, set by Jeff Zywicki in 2008 and equalled by Rhys Duch in 2016.

The team hasn’t had a 100-point man since 2017, when Corey Small tied the franchise record for points in a season with 111. Duch had 111 in 2016 and Colin Doyle established the mark in 2009.

Bell had eight goals and 12 points in a March 18 game at Colorado.


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