Ty Top prospect ready for the pressure

Ty Pilson -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 7:13 AM ET

As the second-overall selection and top-ranked defender chosen in this year\'s National Lacrosse League draft, Calgary Roughnecks blue-chip prospect Taylor Wray is shouldering some lofty expectations. So when the 22-year-old got off the plane here yesterday for his first professional training camp, he was happy to be greeted by a familiar face -- his dad.

\"I haven\'t seen him since the summer so it was really nice to spend some time with him today,\" said the Edmonton native, who\'s commuting this season from North Carolina, where he\'s employed as an assistant lacrosse coach at Queen\'s University of Charlotte as well as working towards his master\'s degree in arts and teaching.

Wray was one of 26 players -- veterans, free agents and draft picks -- slated to take part in the Roughnecks\' second training camp, which kicked off last night at the Soccer Centre and wraps up tonight at 11 p.m. at the same venue.

However, Wray is not just another new face in the crowd.

The 22-year-old right-hander was highly coveted by the Roughnecks heading into the Oct. 25 draft after captaining the NCAA Div. I Duke University field lacrosse team and winning two Minto Cup junior-A national championships with the Burnaby Lakers.

His skill and experience coupled with his size -- 6 ft. 2 in., nearly 230 lb. -- made him the perfect tonic for a Roughnecks\' defence that has struggled since the team\'s inception two seasons ago.

However, Roughnecks head coach Chris Hall said he\'ll be wary of placing too much pressure on Wray too soon.

\"I expect to ease him into it,\" said Hall. \"We\'re not going to put pressure on Taylor or put any unrealistic expectations on him right at the beginning.

\"Ultimately, do we see Taylor Wray as being a franchise type of player who can help lead this team to bigger and better things? Yes. Are we expecting him to do that the first time he walks onto the floor? No. He has to find his way in this league, establish himself, learn some systems and that\'s going to take a little bit of time.\"

Wray realizes his first season will be followed with more scrutiny than the average rookie.

\"I guess there will be a bit of pressure on me,\" he acknowledged. \"But I\'m not going to let myself get too caught up in that. I want to just go out and play as hard as I can every time and hopefully things will work out well.\"

And while Wray will be a rookie in name, Roughnecks director of player personnel Dave Bremner said he foresees Wray making an impact on the floor right away.

\"It\'s not like he\'s coming right out of junior lacrosse,\" said Bremner. \"He\'s been playing against men in the NCAA. So he\'s a little bit older, a little bit wiser so we don\'t consider him a rookie by any means.

\"We think Taylor can step in and play right away and (defend against) the top players in the league.\"

Getting the assignment of covering the league\'s top scorers -- Gary Gait, John Tavares, John Grant Jr., etc. -- would be daunting for any player, especially one in his first pro season.

But Wray, like Bremner, feels he can handle it.

\"It is a little bit intimidating,\" said Wray. \"But I\'m looking forward to the challenge. It\'s something I\'m excited about, getting to match up against some of the best in the world.\"


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