Athletics stock up at draft
St. Catharines WMKL Athletics general manager Jeff Chcoski filled his entire shopping list at the Ontario Junior Lacrosse League Entry Draft Sunday.
“We’re ecstatic,” Chcoski said. “We had planned for this for the last three years putting some pieces in place and making some trades. Even through those COVID years, we were making deals and doing what we had to do because we knew how strong this draft was.
“It was very interesting. We were very prepared for it. That whole first round there was zero thought process. We got what we wanted and we’re happy with outcome.”
The A’s had five of the first 10 picks and used their first pick, No. 3 overall, to select Zackary Toll from the Oshawa Blue Knights. He is the son of A’s coach Steve Toll, who also coached the Blue Knights U17 squad which had a remarkable run this past season, capturing gold at the 2022 Ontario Summer Games.
“He’s a righty O guy who plays a lot of the crease,” Chcoski said. “He gets to the net whenever he wants to get to the net. I think Kitchener-Waterloo staying away from Zack with those first two picks was a nice thing to do, but I think Zack should have went first overall and everyone knows it.”
Clark Dunford was selected first overall by Kitchener-Waterloo. The multi-sport athlete is a product of the Hamilton Bengals Minor Lacrosse Club, and was also selected by the Hamilton Bulldogs in the 2022 Ontario Hockey League draft.
The A’s then selected goaltender Ty Wilson from the Blue Knights with the fourth pick of the first round.
“He is a 6-foot-3 goalie who was goalie of the year,” Chcoski said. “I talked to him this morning and he’s excited to be part of the A’s family and he’ll be a big part of our future along with Oliver (Vanyo).
Defender Cameron Wheelans of Oshawa went to the A’s with the sixth overall pick of the first round.
“Cam was the captain,” Chcoski said. “He will work his tail off every night and do anything for the team. There was a reason with all the great talent they had on that team he was named captain. He’s got muscles upon muscles.”
St. Catharines then selected Zack Poirier of the Nepean Knights with the ninth pick.
“He’s another dynamic player. (Steve) Toll knew him well coaching this age group. He’s another offensive player and we’re looking to see where he fits in,” Chcoski said. “He will definitely play for us sometime in the future.”
Speedy Noah Simpson of Oshawa was the A’s final pick of the first round.
“He was someone (assistant general manager) Sean Howe really loved,” Chcoski said. “We watched him play many times and is someone (assistant coaches) Ian Rubel and Rob Taylor are going to love on defence. He understands the system. He’s a speed guy. He’s a little smaller but he reads the play well and will be able to move the ball.”
The A’s used their final pick the second round and last selection overall in the draft to take defender Josh Manning, who played for the London Blue Devils.
“He’s a D-transition guy who we believe we could use on offence or defence. He’s another guy who can fill our cupboards and give us lots of options down the road,” Chcoski said.
The A’s will begin some informal runs next month gearing up for training camp in April. They will open the 2023 regular season Monday, May 22 at Six Nations before hosting Peterborough Wednesday, May 24 in their home opener at Canada Games Park.
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