Cody Bremner made a history on Monday night, becoming the first ever selection of the Vancouver Stealth in the National Lacrosse League draft.
The Nanaimo Timbermen star had established himself as one of the top prospects for the draft through two great seasons in the Western Lacrosse Association. There was potential for him to go even higher, but the Victoria native is happy he will be able to play of his lacrosse close to home now.
"It was a real honour, I'm excited, it's where I wanted to go, especially being back in Vancouver and being able to play in front of my family and friends and everyone who helped me get to this point," said Bremner.
He was one of three local players taken in the draft. Trade deadline acquisition Jimmy Delaney was selected with the final pick of the second round (18th overall), by the Philadelphia Wings, and junior A Timbermen goalie Peter Dubenski was taken in the fourth round (34th overall) by the Calgary Roughnecks. This was a critical draft for the Stealth after moving from Washington in the summer. They are the first NLL team that Vancouver has had since the Ravens folded in 2004, and making a good impression in their first season in their new home is important. They wanted a player who could fill a big hole on their left side and produce immediately, but the character of the player was just as important.
Stealth president and general manager Doug Locker believes they got the "complete package" in Bremner.
"He was our No. 1 pick going into the draft," said Locker. "We were breathing a lot easier when the seventh pick was called and it wasn't Cody. .. He was the guy for the last two weeks we really wanted and were just so fortunate to get him."
Bremner had an impressive second season with the Timbermen, scoring 54 points (28 goals, 26 assists) in 14 games, and has combined for 123 points (52-71-123) in 33 games in the WLA.
To enter the draft he had to forgo his final year of eligibility at Cornell with the Big Red, though he is finishing his education there this year.
This will allow the left-hander to play this season with the Stealth, flying out for training camp and games. Still, he doesn't view that being a big challenge, he will have his work cut out just adjusting to the league.
"The biggest thing for me is the increase in talent, the NLL is a step up from the WLA," said Bremner. "Guys are faster, bigger strong and more talented, that will be the biggest hurdle for me."
Timbermen head coach Kaleb Toth was surprised Bremner lasted as long as he did in the draft, believing he could have been a top five selection. But he is going to a good situation, on a deep, talented team where there will not be a ton of pressure on him to be the man right away.
"He's going to have to come to play and come to compete every night," said Toth, who played for 13 years in the NLL with the Toronto Rock and Calgary Roughnecks. "When I first started off (fitness and speed) was not the most important thing, it was more of a battle and bruise kind of league, and now it's gone to more of an athleticism and speed and skill, and Cody's got all of that."
The Timbermen acquired Delaney at the WLA trade deadline after he got lost in the rotation with the Coquitlam Adanacs, and the diminutive forward found a home in a hurry on the right side of the floor.
But he did not receive a ton of exposure heading into the draft and was a bit of an unknown. He was not even listed among the top 50 prospects heading into the weekend, but he scored 11 points in two games at the draft combine on Saturday and Sunday, and shot up the draft board for a number of teams. When it settled, he was taken by Philadelphia in the second round.
Proving others wrong is something that the five-foot-eight, 180-pounder will have to do.
"I think Delaney's got the smarts to out think the big defenders and he's quick too, he's got a lot of speed surprisingly for his size,," said Toth. "He's got to use that to
his advantage and capitalize on the mistakes defenders make."
Offence has always been his calling card, scoring 23 points in six games after arriving in Nanaimo. In his last year of junior lacrosse, he scored 101 points (51-50-101) in 16 games with the Okotoks Raiders to lead the Rocky Mountain Junior A Lacrosse League in scoring.
Dubenski has a tough jump to make to the NLL. He will not have the benefit of already playing senior or college lacrosse as most of the 55 selected players have.
The Nanaimo native will still be taking his best shot at earning the backup goalie spot with the Roughnecks this season.
"I've played against their backup goalie Frankie Scigliano, and I believe I can take the spot from him," said Dubenski. "I've just got to work hard and just go in there with an open mind and give it 110 per cent."
The five-foot-11, 210-pound netminder has always found a way to raise his level of play with better teams. He played 18 games with the Timbermen this season before being dealt at the deadline to the Adanacs, and helped them to the Minto Cup tournament, and his numbers only got better as they went along.
This summer he has been working out with former pro Marty O'Neill and he has already seen the improvements in his game, and will be working with him right up until the Roughnecks training camp.
"He's definitely helped me a lot and he's definitely going to be one of the reasons I'm successful in my future career in lacrosse," said Dubenski.
He has one year left with the Timbermen, and he is hoping that all of this experience will help make it a memorable one.
"I'm going to keep working on my skills and bring back everything that I can to Nanaimo," said Dubenski. "We definitely have the chance to make something happen. We just need to get a few new players and a new attitude."
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