Stickmen set sights on the postseason

After taking their lumps for the past two seasons, the Surrey Stickmen are expecting a more experienced lineup will lead to a B.C. Junior Lacrosse League playoff berth.

The Stickmen have been situated in the league basement for the past two seasons since going 18-2-1 (won-lost-tied) to finish first in 2006. With just five victories in those two years, Surrey will likely need to surpass that combined total in 2008 to contend for the club’s third playoff berth in eight seasons.

“The first goal is definitely the playoffs,” said director of operations Paul Sparrow. “Last year we had a lot of first year players. This year, they are all in their second season, as is (head coach) Curtis Gulliford. We have a lot of returning players, and we’ve made some good additions.”

The Stickmen are excited about signing free agent goaltender Mike Lowe, who played as an underage player with the Delta Islanders last season. He will be backed up by Graham Chandler, who played with the Stickmen organization at the Intermediate A level in 2007.

“Both goaltenders are first-year juniors, so we’re set in goal for the three years,” said Sparrow.

The Stickmen have lost two of the four players to reach double-digits in goal scoring a year ago. Ryan Harwood, the team leader with 23 goals in 20 games, and Mitch Diblee, with 13 goals and 39 points in 21 games played, will be expected to provide much of the offence.

Graham Weidenhammer has scored a pair of goals in three preseason games, showing he is likely to surpass last season’s output of six goals.

Other newcomers who could contribute offensively include Darryl Stickler, who was recruited from the Junior B ranks after scoring 10 goals with the Coquitlam Adanacs, and Scott Davidson, a second-year player acquired from the Victoria Shamrocks.

Surrey has dropped all three games played in preseason competition by a combined score of 27-7. Weidenhammer, Harwood and Chris Martin each tallied twice for the Stickmen, with Richard Wilmott adding a single.

The Stickmen will face two huge hurdles at the start of the path to the postseason. They visit the defending provincial champion Burnaby Lakers (19-2 in 2007) tonight at 7 p.m. at the Copeland Arena, then host the Victoria Shamrocks (12-9) Sunday at 1:30 p.m. at the North Surrey Recreation Centre.

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