Story by Ian McNaughton
The countdown is on for the 2021 WLA Draft as we inch closer to the big day. With February 11th on the mind of every lacrosse fan, we’re going back into the vault and looking at some previous first overall picks. We jump back to 2019 when the Coquitlam Adanacs took Christian Del Bianco first overall to solidify the starting goaltending position.
2019 - Christian Del Bianco (Coquitlam)
Del Bianco, a native of Coquitlam, BC, is the only goaltender on this list as the Coquitlam Adanac star looks to represent the purple and gold once again. After winning the 2016 Minto Cup with the Adanacs, in five games over the Orangeville Northmen, and 2018 over the Brampton Excelsiors, Coquitlam drafted Del Bianco first overall in 2019.
Although he started the 2019 season with a 1-4 record, Del Bianco did have an 0.812 SV% and a 10.79 GAA in five games with the Adanacs. His rights were acquired by the Maple Ridge Burrards midway through 2019, here we would go 2-3 in six games with a 9.62 GAA and a .802 SV%. After the season finished, Del Bianco’s rights were shipped back to Coquitlam, meaning the 22-year old star now has an opportunity to lead his hometown team on a potential Mann Cup journey.
2018 - Connor Robinson (Langley)
After winning the Henry “Del” Delmonico Trophy for BCJALL MVP in 2017, all was looking up for New Westminster, BC’s Connor Robinson. Taking the silky-smooth forward first overall in the 2018 WLA Draft was a no-brainer decision for the Langley Thunder, who are trying to get back to the WLA Playoffs for the time since 2015.
In 2019, Robinson finished in the top five of WLA players for both points (64) and assists (40). After the Thunder traded his rights to the Victoria Shamrocks at the 2019 Trade Deadline, Robinson wound up leading the team in regular-season scoring and finished tied for second on Victoria in Mann Cup scoring. With the Thunder getting their first overall pick back, Langley is becoming a better team every day and Robinson is a big part of that.
2017 - Tyler Pace (Langley)
The second of two first overall picks made by Langley on this list, it’s hard to ignore the talents of Tyler Pace. He was a member of the Coquitlam Jr. Adanacs when drafted, including the 2016 squad that won the Minto Cup. His buzzer-beater to win Game 4 of the 2019 WLA Finals is one of the most memorable goals in recent years as it helped Victoria take a 3-1 series lead and eventually move on to the 2019 Mann Cup.
Now back with the Thunder, Pace hopes to return to his almost four points per game average he had in 2018. If Langley is to become a winning team once again, it’ll be because of Pace (and his teammate Connor Robinson) leading the charge.
2016 - Josh Byrne (Burnaby)
Byrne was drafted first overall by the Burnaby Lakers at the 2016 WLA Draft. In 16 career regular-season games, he scored 12 goals and 33 assists for 45 points. He had 19 points in six games in Burnaby’s first-round series before falling in six games. Byrne’s 112 points in 2013 with the New Westminster Salmonbellies of the BCJALL earned him a first-team All-Star spot.
2015 - Wes Berg (Coquitlam)
In 2014, Berg scored 29 points in the playoffs for the Junior Adanacs, the third most on the team. His efforts helped propel them to the 2014 Minto Cup, where he would score 21 points in six games before reaching the Adanacs would reach the final. Berg would score three assists in one game at finals against Six Nations.
Berg scored 39 points in 12 games between Maple Ridge and Coquitlam in 2019. In 10 playoff games that season, he scored 10 points for the Burrards, including a seven-point performance in Game 4 of the WLA Finals. Berg’s rights have reverted to Coquitlam and is now a member of the Adanacs.
2014 - Tyler Garrison (Coquitlam)
Garrison was another member of the 2014 Minto Cup team with the Coquitlam Junior Adanacs. He had 18 points in 15 games with the Adanacs in 2014 and that would be his only WLA season. Garrison eventually earned his MBA at the UBC Sauder School of Business and is now a Manager of Strategic Ventures at BCAA.
2013 - Ben McIntosh (Maple Ridge)
Ben McIntosh scored 42 points in nine games with the Juniors Adanacs in 2012 before the Burrards selected him first overall in 2013. He’s been nothing but a scoring threat since entering the WLA, putting up 135 goals in 65 career WLA regular-season games with Maple Ridge. He has 224 career regular-season points and has registered at least point in his last 11 straight games.
The 2018 postseason was McIntosh’s best as he had 41 points in nine games for the Burrards before taking them to the Mann Cup that year. He led the team in scoring in the 2018 Mann Cup with 15 points, including putting up four goals and four assists in Game 1. McIntosh is a threat to score at anytime and anywhere, especially when the postseason comes calling.
2012 - Travis Cornwall (Coquitlam)
Cornwall took home the 2010 Minto Cup with the Junior Adanacs and that was only the start of a storied career. In his draft-eligible season, Cornwall scored 42 goals and 64 assists for 106 points with Coquitlam. He was the obvious first overall selection for the Senior Adanacs, who drafted him first overall in the 2012 WLA Draft.
Cornwall was a point per game player, or better, in three seasons with the Adanacs between 2012-2014. He came back to play with Maple Ridge in 2019, scoring 16 points in 14 games during the regular season. After scoring five points during the 2019 playoffs, Cornwall’s WLA rights have now shifted back to Adanacs, and both he and his brother Jeff are Assistant Coachs for the Junior Adanacs.
The 2021 Graduating Junior Draft will take place Thursday, February 11th at 7pm and will be broadcast live on WLALacrosse.com. Join hosts Jake Elliott and Brad Challoner, plus Commissioner Paul Dal Monte and general managers from across the WLA as teams select the next slate of players and prepare to get back on the floor. Watch live at WLALacrosse.com, and follow along on social media using the hashtag #WLADraft.