Not content to rest on the laurels of last season, the Langley Thunder have added one of lacrosse’s most dynamic players.
The senior A lacrosse team — who last summer captured the Western Lacrosse Association championship for the first time in franchise history — acquired Lewis Ratcliff from the Nanaimo Timbermen over the weekend. The Thunder sent a pair of draft picks, a first and second rounder in 2014, to Nanaimo.
“It should add a little bit of punch up front,” understated Langley general manager Gerry Van Beek.
Ratcliff, who turns 31 on April 24 is a prolific scorer both in the WLA and in the National Lacrosse League.
“Lewis adds some more veteran leadership to our team as well as some tremendous skill.”
In the NLL — where he has played for Calgary, Toronto and currently the Washington Stealth — Ratcliff has 344 goals and 746 points in 143 games.
And in the WLA, with Victoria and Nanaimo, Ratcliff has 349 goals and 745 points in 137 games. He also won two Mann Cups, the Canadian national championship, with Victoria.
The left-hander joins a potent Langley line-up which already features another top-notch goal scorer in right-hander Athan Iannucci. This gives the Thunder goal-scoring options from both sides of the floor.
Iannucci led the Thunder in 2011 with 29 goals in 18 games, which placed him tied for sixth. Ratcliff had 26 goals, but in just 10 games.
“When we heard he might be available, we explored what it might take to make it work,” Van Beek said.
With Ratcliff spending the majority of his time in the Pacific Northwest — including playing in the NLL with the Everett-based Washington Stealth.
“We are pleased and excited,” Van Beek said.
“It shows where we are trying to get to.
“We are not sitting on successes from last year.”
The club has had a busy month so far, adding Shayne Jackson and Brett Hickey, as well as the return of Joel McCready.
Jackson played a major role in helping the Whitby Warriors win the Minto Cup, the national junior A championship, in 2012. In 77 games with the Warriors, he compiled 303 points. He is currently playing for the Limestone College on a field lacrosse scholarship.
Hickey is another offensive-minded player with 418 points in 148 games at the junior A level with the Windsor Clippers. He is a teammate of Ratcliff’s on the Stealth.
McCready, also from Ontario, played 2010 with Langley but took last year off after joining the Burnaby Fire Department. As a rookie two years ago, he had 48 points in 16 games. He is a solid two-way player.
The Thunder began training camp last week as they gear towards the season, which opens on May 20. The team’s home opener at the Langley Events Centre is May 23.
They will have an exhibition game at the George Preston Recreation Centre on May 13.