Canada’s team for the world indoor lacrosse tournament in Prague, May 21-28, gets a big offensive boost today with the announcement that Jeff Zywicki, Shawn Evans and Stephan Leblanc have been named to the roster.
Other players previously named and who will be keys to the attack are Colin Doyle, John Grant Jr., Josh Sanderson, Dan Dawson, Rhys Duch and Jordan Hall.
Zywicki, 29, from Ottawa, is an established National Lacrosse League star with the Washington Stealth. He capped his fifth pro season last spring by scoring nine goals during the Stealth’s three-game march to the NLL title. He’s been out of action since suffering a lower body injury during in his team’s Jan. 8 opener but expects to be ready and eager for the Prague experience. He already owns an impressive international resume.
He was selected top attackman during the 2006 world field lacrosse tournament in London, Ont., where Canada won its first world outdoor title in 28 years, setting in the process a tournament record with 28 goals in eight games. He also scored the overtime winner when Canada defeated the Iroquois Nationals to win its third straight world indoor championship four years ago in Halifax.
“Jeff is one of the best offensive players in the game,’’ says Team Canada assistant coach Paul Day. “He is a great addition with Doyle, Grant, Sanderson and Evans to feed him the ball.’’
Evans, 24, from Peterborough, is an important playmaker and scorer with the NLL’s Rochester Knighthawks. In summer amateur play with his home-city Lakers last year, he set a Mann Cup record for assists to help Peterborough win the Canadian senior championship. He is the only player to have won national junior and senior titles and the NLL championship within 12 months.
“Shawn is a tough young player who has embraced the role of a feeder,’’ says Day, who is an assistant coach with the Knighthawks. “He’s a fearless competitor.’’
Evans is thrilled to have been selected.
“I’m very lucky to get this chance to suit up with a very talented group of players,’’ he says. “It’s been a dream of mine ever since I picked up a lacrosse stick. I’m looking forward to helping out the team and my country any way I can. We have a great coaching staff, one that is always well prepared. It should be a great experience.’’
Leblanc, 25, from Dundas, Ont., was NLL rookie of the year in 2010 and in this just his second season continues to make jaw-dropping moves. Going into this weekend of NLL action, the Toronto Rock forward is third in league scoring with 32 points (15-17) in five games.
“Steph brings size, power and an impressive lacrosse IQ to the team,’’ says Rock and Team Canada teammate Doyle. “He is a gifted goal scorer with good game sense and a winning attitude. He likes going to the tough spots to score and that should help bigtime in Canada’s quest for gold.’’
Leblanc, who plays for the Langley Thunder of the Western Lacrosse Association during his summers, has not represented Canada on the international stage previously.
“I’ll take this very seriously as it’s a huge honour to be part of such a special group,’’ he says. “It’s extremely exciting to have the opportunity to play with some of the world’s elite athletes. I hope to use my size and physical play to create time and space for the veteran talent selected to the team.’’