CALGARY - While the rest of the National Lacrosse League loaded up on prospects Wednesday, the Calgary Roughnecks added a proven veteran.
Sitting with the No. 5 pick in the 2011 NLL Entry Draft, the Riggers flipped that selection to the Rochester Knighthawks for right-handed forward Shawn Evans, plus got a first-round selection next year thrown in, as well.
Evans has 143 goals in 93 career NLL games, but he’s also been part of Minto, Mann and Champion’s Cup teams in his career.
“He’s a proven winner, which is something you can’t teach,” said Riggers head coach Dave Pym. “His heart and compete level is second to none. He’s a gritty warrior. He’s not a big guy, but he will take on the biggest guy in the league. He has the heart of a lion. We have admired him for a long time.”
The Riggers could be loaded on the left side, as Evans fits in with Curtis Dickson, Scott Ranger and veteran Kaleb Toth.
Toth, however, is still recovering from a hamstring problem that has slowed him down the past couple of seasons and could miss time to start the season. If Toth doesn’t come back healthy, the Riggers have more than enough offence on that side.
Evans also provides the team with a fiery presence up front, something that may have been missing since Tracey Kelusky and Josh Sanderson were traded before last season.
“I will play my game and create scoring opportunities for our offence,” said Evans, who was stunned at news of the trade. “I try to create the best opportunity for our offensive players to score.”
The Riggers actually got everything they wanted out of draft day. At pick No. 7, they took transition player Travis Cornwall from the B.C. junior champion Coquitlam Adanacs. With pick No. 11, the Riggers snagged defender Greg Harnett from the Orangeville Northmen, who is the younger brother of current Riggers defender Jon Harnett.
The reuniting of the Harnett brothers is a dream come true for the pair, who won back-to-back Minto Cups together in junior.
“When the 11th pick came, I was shaking a bit,” said Greg, who is a student at Bishop’s University. “Once my name got called, it was a relief. It’s hard to put into words what a great feeling it is.
“I’m up there (as happiest man in the world). There might be someone tied with me, but there isn’t anybody happier. We’re pumped to get the opportunity to play with each other again.”
In the second round, the Riggers took goalie Frankie Scigliano from New Westminster, while they selected Okotoks Raiders captain Barclay Hickey in the fifth round and Edmonton’s Darren Kinnear in the sixth. Raiders defender Aaron Tackaberry was taken 36th overall by Rochester.
Cornwall’s brother Jeff was picked up by the Buffalo Bandits at pick No. 15, and Travis was holding out hope they could be together in Calgary.
Still, Cornwall is pumped to join the Riggers and assistant coach Curt Malawsky, who doubles as head coach of the Adanacs.
“Obviously, the whole year was successful,” Cornwall said. “I get to go to Calgary and play for Curt again.
“I never expected to go that high at any point in my life.
I feel I’m ready to go pro. It’s up to them. I want to prove to them that I’m ready to go.”