Riggers scoop up local talent

ROD KELLY -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:53 AM ET

It only takes eight seconds for Joel Henry to grab paydirt when he throws on the chaps and battles it out in the rodeo circuit.

But it took even less time for the Calgary Roughnecks to announce the Cochrane bullrider's name yesterday, one of their seven selections at the 2008 National Lacrosse League Entry Draft in Boston.

Henry, selected 42nd overall, and 20th pick Joe Vetere of Calgary were two highlights for the Riggers on a day that saw the Calgary team beef up with a combination of physical and finesse players.

Riggers owner and GM Brad Banister was especially proud to have garnered local products Vetere and Henry.

"They were both very sought after by a lot of teams," Banister said of Vetere, the club's first-ever ball boy, and Henry, well known in the Calgary area for his skill in the rodeo ring. "We're really happy to be getting them ... We want Alberta talent to be playing right here in Alberta. By getting these guys, we keep them in the market. They become more visible and we want Calgarians to play in Calgary so that they can live in Calgary and have careers in Calgary. And it's even better when you can get two quality kids like Joe and Joel."

On a draft day that saw retired Toronto Rock star Jim Veltman's nephew Daryl go first overall to the Boston Blazers, the Riggers went after a Simon Fraser University product with their first-round pick.

Acquiring a player described by Banister as "the entire package," Calgary grabbed Curtis Manning with their first selection, the draft's sixth pick overall.

Banister said securing Manning was a pleasant surprise for the Riggers, who were on the lookout for a player with strong transitional skills.

"He is a great player," Banister said of the right-handed stalwart who starred with the New Westminster Junior A Salmonbellies and played for the 2004 and 2005 First Nation's Cup champion B.C. team.

"It was a surprise that we were able to get Curtis. We were fortunate because he's exactly the type of player we were going after: Strong offence, defence and transition."

The Riggers also picked up forward Cayle Ratcliff, the younger brother of ex-Riggers star Lewis Ratcliff.

Cayle was picked 15th overall, while Lewis, who played five seasons in Calgary, was selected 49th overall by the Riggers in 2001. The Roughnecks have high hopes for the youngest Ratcliff, who's expected to bring offence.

"Cayle is a real leader," Banister said of the forward who captained the Victoria Shamrocks at the recent Minto Cup national junior A championship at the Max Bell Centre.

"He scores a lot of goals."

Bryan Johnson (50), Eric Lamothe (55), and Calgary junior A Mountaineers captain Tyler Pridham (68) rounded out the team's picks.


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