With lacrosse fans decked in a sea of green at Braefoot Park on Sunday afternoon during the annual St. Paddy’s Shootaround, the Shamrocks announced the signings of Rhys Duch, Corey Small and Chris Wardle.
The reigning Most Valuable Player in the Western Lacrosse Association, Rhys Duch is returning for his 9th season as a Shamrock and is expected to once again lead a potent offensive attack. Duch is a Victoria native who grew up playing in the Braefoot box for the Saanich Tigers before playing through the Intermediate A Shamrocks and Junior A Shamrocks ranks. In eight seasons with the Shamrocks, Rhys has scored 374 goals with 442 assists in 191 regular season and playoff games. Duch is coming off a career year in the WLA as leader in several categories; points(101), goals(43), points per game average(6.31) and power-play goals(8) culminating in League awards; Most Valuable Player, 3 Star and 1st team All-Star. His scoring championship in 2016 was his second, having previously won it in 2014.
Corey Small is returning for his 7th season as a Shamrock, and 2017 will be his second year as team captain. Small has finished in the top three in WLA scoring every year he has played except one, his first back in 2011 when he finished 6th. He won the league scoring championship in 2015 and is a three-time 1st team all-star. In 2016, he finished 2nd in points with 75, including 33 goals and 42 assists. He was named a 2nd team all-star. Small made a permanent move to Victoria from his hometown of St. Catharines, Ontario a few years ago and together with Duch he is part of the most lethal left-right offensive partnership in the sport of indoor lacrosse today, having won the last three WLA scoring titles between them and finishing one-two in league scoring all three years. Small has clearly won the hearts of Shamrocks fans along the way, having been voted as the most popular player four times, including the last three years straight.
Chris Wardle, another Victoria native, is entering his 4th season with the Shamrocks. In 2016 he racked up 65 points in 31 games last season while being in the Top 5 goal scorer and power play goal categories. Wardle is a grinder that led the league in game-winning goals in 2016 which had a big part in receiving the leagues Unsung Hero award. Wardle is not the biggest player on the floor, but he plays with a tonne of heart, going to the dirty areas and working hard for his teammates. He is a very valuable part of the Shamrocks offensive scheme.
“Obviously we’re very happy to bring back three of our core players in Rhys, Corey and Chris,” said Shamrocks general manager Chris Welch. “These are the three guys in our group that the league recognised last year with individual accolades so I figured that was a good place to start,” said Welch. “This announcement signals that the Shamrocks will be gunning for the top again in 2017.”
Victoria Shamrocks season tickets start at just $45 for kids and be bundled with an adult for only $150. Tickets can be purchased by phoning 250-478-ROCK(7625) or at the team store located at 967 Langford Parkway. Find out the many benefits of becoming a Shamrocks season ticket holder at Victoriashamrocks.com.