Young guns ready to go off
Goaltender Oliver Vanyo is one of the St. Catharines Athletics Young Guns most promising prospects. Photo by: BILL POTRECZ
The St. Catharines Athletics will get a peek into their future this weekend.
A Young Guns tournament will be held beginning Friday at the Toronto Rock practice facility in Oakville in conjunction with the Ontario Junior Lacrosse League junior A semifinal playoffs for players born from 2003-2005.
“It is a huge showcase and that’s pretty much why I came back on board for this,” A’s head coach Steve Toll said. “Some coaches are taking it off but I felt I owed it to the kids to show that I am interested to see what they have in the future years and see what they bring.”
The A’s have a roster of 26 players who will begin play Friday at 11 a.m. versus Brampton followed by a game versus Kitchen-Waterloo at 5 p.m. The A’s play three more games Saturday and could have two more games Sunday if they advance to the playoff round.
“We’ll see what they have,” Toll said. “They are going to have a lot of games in a lot of days too.”
Toll plans to put plenty of stock into the performances this weekend.
“I want to see what they have,” he said. “Hopefully we’ll be back in full swing next year. I want to be successful every year so if we need a lefty shooter, I want to know that we need a lefty shooter.”
The A’s have a lineup filled with veterans who will be moving on which will open up several spots next season.
“I would pretty much guarantee 10-12 of them will be on the junior A 23-man roster next year,” Toll said. “That 04 group won the A championship two years ago when we last played so they have a great group from the goalie on out.
“We’re looking for some big things from them.”
One of the top prospects the A’s will be keeping their eyes on is 17-year-old goaltender Oliver Vanyo.
Vanyo has been practising with the A’s as their third goaltender and is expected to get plenty of playing time for the Young Guns this weekend.
“When you practice with the older guys, you learn a whole bunch of new stuff,” said Vanyo, who will enter Grade 12 at Governor Simcoe in September. “It’s a totally different game. It’s so much more fast paced and then you apply that to the Young Guns league and it can prepare you more.
“Playing with the Young Guns and the junior team really helps your all-around game.”
Vanyo is eager to compete, particularly with dozens of scouts from college and universities expected to be in attendance.
“It’s been pretty hard not playing the sport you love,” he said. “Now that you’re back you go back 150 per cent, you go all out. It’s amazing.”
Toll likes what he sees from Vanyo in practice.
“This is the first time I’ve got to meet him this year and I’ve heard nothing but positive things about him. He’s an unbelievable goalie and kid and he’s from an unbelievable family,” Toll said. “Show me a good goalie and I’ll show you a good coach, it’s that easy.”
Vanyo would love nothing more than to show well and be in line for a job with the A’s next summer.
“I’ve been looking forward to it for a really long time. It’s going to be sweet. That’s been my goal,” he said.
Cameron Pak, Keaton Zavitz and Ty Steenhuis of the Young Guns have already dressed for the A’s in the tournament and could do so again this weekend, Toll said.
St. Catharines Athletics Young Guns roster: Carter Accursi, Colton Armitage, Mitchell Armstrong, Aidan Arsenault, Owen Faris, Nathan Fehr, Ethan Fisher, Carter Geoffroy, Gavin Howard, Christian Lefeuvre, Cameron Pak, Issac Prantera, Julian Race, Jacob Rawson, Lucas Shoebridge, Tye Steenhuis, Oliver Vanyo, Jackson Webster, Keaton Zavitz, Chris Wilson, Tyler Stevens, Freddie Sutton, Dereck Smythe, Adam Ross, Trent Mooradian, Maveryck Gatt.
Coaches: Kiel Matisz, Ian Llord, Corey Small, Steve Toll and Rob Taylor.
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