Local flavour to NLL draft
Jake McNabb of the St. Catharines Athletics was selected in the second round of the NLL draft Tuesday. Photo by: BILL POTRECZ
The St. Catharines Athletics were well represented at the National Lacrosse League draft Tuesday night.
Alex Pace, Jake McNabb, Tom Whitty and Bradley Fannell all heard their names called at the draft, which was held in Philadelphia.
As well, former A’s goaltender and St. Catharines native Troy Holowchuk was picked, while Thorold native and former Athletic Holden Garlent was the top local player chosen when he was selected in the first round (fourth overall) by the Saskatchewan Rush.
Athletics general manager Jeff Chcoski was proud as a peacock so many members of the double blue were chosen.
“I don’t know how many other teams had four players chosen but I’m sure we’d be close to the top,” Chcoski said. “I think it puts St. Catharines back on the lacrosse map. It says St. Catharines is still a hot bed for lacrosse.”
Three of the four current A’s chosen were defenders or transition players.
“We knew there was a good core of D guys coming through here and that we had a pretty special group,” Chcoski said.
Pace was the first St. Catharines player chosen when he was selected by the Philadelphia Wings in the second round (20th overall).
“Alex was a guy who improved so much over the last couple of years to become the player he is,” Chcoski said. “He will crack the starting roster right away.
“He is a true leader on and off the floor.”
Pace hails from Halifax and moved to St. Catharines four years ago.
“He was super-excited,” Chcoski said.
McNabb, a 21-year-old native of Owen Sound, was also selected in the second round by the Colorado Mammoth, who took the sniper with the 31st overall pick.
McNabb cemented his status as an elite offensive player with a superb performance in the playoffs where he collected 24 goals in 10 games.
“Jake is a special player,” Chcoski said. “He’s a shooter and the numbers he put up in the playoffs basically carved out his draft and being able to go in the second round.
“He was one of the most focused guys in the dressing room and obviously knew what he was doing.”
Whitty, a 20-year-old St. Catharines native, was selected in the third round (35th overall) by the Rochester Knighthawks.
“He just plays the game right and treats everybody right,” Chcoski said. “We’re so proud of Tom.”
Whitty, who attends the University of Guelph, still has one year of junior eligibility remaining.
“He comes back to our program next year and will definitely be a leader in the dressing room,” Chcoski said.
Fannell, a 21-year-old St. Catharines native, went in the sixth round (81st overall) to the expansion Halifax Thunderbirds.
“He’s been through so much,” Chcoski said. “He’s one of the best transition players — he won the transition award for our team — he’s worked super hard and is a leader in the lockeroom.
“For him to take two years off and then come back and get drafted is pretty special for him and his family.”
Holowchuk was selected by the Toronto Rock in the fourth round.
The 19-year-old St. Catharines native spent time with both the Spartan junior B’s and A’s before being dealt to the Six Nations Arrows this season.
“I traded him because he wanted to play and it worked out good for Troy,” Chcoski said. “He didn’t want to sit behind Nick (Damude) for another year. It was a mutual trade and it worked out well for both teams.”
Garlent, a 23-year-old Thorold native, attended Canisius College and played senior in Brooklin last year.
“It was the right decision for me,” Garlent said in a press release on the team’s web site (saskrush.com) of coming out ahead of his senior season. “I’ve got a great relationship with Derek Keenan. I think he likes my style of play and I hope I can build on that relationship and see where it goes.”
As a junior at Canisius, the 6-foot-2, 190-pounder led the Griffins and finished second in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference with 26 caused turnovers and finished second on the team with 35 loose balls. Garlent scored four goals and added three assists last season for Canisius and set a school record with six caused turnovers in a victory over Mercer. One year earlier as a sophomore, Garlent earned All-MAAC Conference first team honours.
He was the captain and team most valuable player for St. Catharines in 2016 and then moved to Six Nations a year later and helped the Arrows win the 2017 Minto Cup, scoring eight goals in eight playoff games.
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