|John Grant, Jr. may or may not be playing for Peterborough this summer. Andrew Suitor (hugging Grant) is out |
for sure with a knee injury. The Lakers will attempt to defend their 2012 Mann Cup championship
The Peterborough Lakers held a press conference to announce players that will be returning from and joining the 2012 Mann Cup champions Wednesday at the Peterborough Memorial Centre. While much of the core of the team is back, someone who may or may not be available will garner plenty of attention as well. John Grant, Jr. is in the process of obtaining his U.S. Citizenship and is uncertain whether he'll be able to cross the border regularly to play. Head Coach and GM Jamie Batley said, though, that if Grant is able to travel freely he will suit up for a limited number of games, similar to the way he has in the past because of his commitments to Major League Lacrosse and other lacrosse work in the States.
Whether Grant can play or not, though, there are plenty of players returning, led by a trio of brothers who grew up in the Peterborough minor lacrosse system and are excited to continue playing for their home town. Scott and Brad Self and Shawn Evans were on hand at the press conference. Scott Evans is also committed to playing this summer, as are Kyle and Brock Sorensen.
“When you've got three sets of brothers playing it's showing a lot of skill that we're learning here and that's coming out of Peterborough,” said Shawn Evans. “It's big for the city of Peterborough and it's big for us that we get to continue to play with our friends and teammates that we played with all the way up.”
Batley echoes Evans' sentiment, saying the team has an internal mandate to have a core of local players. “We want to have a Peterborough base, a Peterborough foundation,” he said.
Other local products who'll be playing this summer are Tracey Kelusky, Cory Vitarelli and Kevin Croswell. They'll be joined by returning players Mark Steenhuis, Jordan MacIntosh, Andrew Watt, Tyler Carlson and newly signed goaltender Kurtis Wagar.
Several players will be missing from last year. The team's defender of the year, Mac Allen, and Andrew Suitor are both out for the season because of knee injuries. Darryl Gibson has retired, Mat Giles is focusing on his role as head coach of the Jr A Lakers and Kyle Laverty is not returning.
With Grant uncertain, there is a question mark at lefty forward. John Tavares is committed to playing the season if he is healthy, but that is uncertain given the physical troubles he had in last year's playoffs and Mann Cup and some ongoing issues this year with the Buffalo Bandits of the NLL. Chad Culp is currently on Buffalo's injured list but Batley says Culp's doctor has told him he think he'll be able to play this summer.
With Allen and Suitor out, there are some gaps in the defensive zone. Those are compounded because Darryl Gibson has retired and two other players aren't yet certain of their availability. Chris White is getting married in August and Mike Hobbins in living in the Durham region and working in Greater Toronto, so he's not sure if he'll be able to make a commitment to the team.
Batley said he wants to incorporate some other local products in the back end. “That's where I believe that Mark Farthing, Pete Rennie and Eric Bissell can help to fill defensive deficiencies.” All three are having strong years in the Canadian Lacrosse League. Farthing, in particular, is considered a leading candidate for CLax's transition player of the year award.
Having Brock Sorensen this summer will also help to cushion the blow from the missing players. Sorensen was the second overall pick in the NLL draft by the Minnesota Swarm and is returning to the dominating form that earned him that high ranking after missing the entire summer of 2012 after blowing out his knee.
The Lakers will also have graduating junior Robert Hope, a rangy and athletic defender considered an early- to mid-round NLL prospect, available to help on the defensive end, along with fellow Jr Lakers grad Matt Crough, a talented righty forward.
Peterborough plays host to the first game of the MSL season when traditional rival Brampton Excelsiors visit on May 23.