MSL Draft Yields Big Haul For Rock

by Mike Hancock

The Oakville Rock had three picks in the top ten and made five selections in total in the 2021 Major Series Lacrosse Draft which was held virtually with all six MSL franchises participating via a video conference call.

"I thought we did really well,” said Rock GM Steve Dietrich.  “Among the players we had in the top 20, we were able to select five of those players with three in the top ten.  I’m extremely pleased with the quality players we welcomed to the Oakville Rock family.”

Dietrich started the night by selecting lefty transition player Mike McCannell from the Orangeville Jr. A Northmen.  McCannell, who also attends Stony Brook University and plays midfield for the Seawolves, was an integral part of the Northmen’s 2019 Minto Cup Canadian Junior A Championship team.  The Orangeville, ON native is pursuing a Business Management degree at Stony Brook.

In the second round, 8th overall, the Rock turned to the Toronto Jr. A Beaches to bolster their youth on the back end and selected  6’ 4” lefty defender Cameron Wyers.  Hailing from Ottawa, ON, the heavy defender plays collegiately at Loyola University where he started all 17 games in 2019 as a freshman and then started all five games he played in 2020.

With the 10th overall selection, the Rock selected Matt Anderson from the Burlington Jr. A Chiefs.  Anderson is a versatile righty that has proven the ability to succeed at both ends of the floor in his Junior career.  In his first year of Jr. A lacrosse with Burlington, he played a primarily defensive role and scored just one goal in 19 games.  In 2019, he was shifted to an offensive role and subsequently led the Chiefs in scoring with 69 points (30G + 39A) in 18 games.  The Burlington, ON native is a teammate of McCannell’s at Stony Brook University.

With their third round pick, 16th overall, the Rock selected goaltender Devlin Shanahan from the Mimico Jr. A Mountaineers.  This isn’t the first time Dietrich has drafted Shanahan.  Dietrich, who also serves as the GM for the NLL’s Buffalo Bandits, selected the Mimico star netminder in the 2018 NLL Draft.  From Mississauga, ON, Shanahan could be the heir apparent to the Rock’s goaltending throne and will have the opportunity to work and learn alongside number one goalie Nick Rose. 

With their fifth and final pick, 28th overall, the Rock selected lefty forward Hunter Lemieux from the Burlington Jr. A Chiefs.  The Lockport, NY native made the shift from the Niagara Jr. B Thunderhawks to the Jr. A ranks in 2018 and promptly scored 23 goals and 54 points in 20 games.  In 2019, he proved he could do it again, scoring 55 points in 19 games (22G + 33A).  He attends Roberts Wesleyan College, and like another famous Lemieux, wears number 66 while playing attack for the Redhawks.

Dietrich had a plan heading into the draft and feels the evening unfolded in a way that should have fans of the Rock feeling very optimistic about what’s to come.

“Having not played for almost two years now, we have two groups of protected graduating juniors, a group of 2020 draft picks and now a strong 2021 class of draft picks.   We accomplished our goal of adding athletes with size.  The group we drafted should have Oakville fans very excited about the future,” said Dietrich.

While there is currently no clarity on the 2021 season, there is still hope that a shortened season and full Ontario playoffs could be a possibility.  Like everything else, this can only happen if government guidelines allow a full return to play.