The Vancouver Ravens continue to build their opening season roster by signing three standout players from the Western Lacrosse Association.
Ben Hieltjes, Peter Morgan and Kyle Goundrey, all forwards, will bring their talents to the Ravens and the National Lacrosse League for the 2001-2002 season.
Hieltjes, known in Western Canada as a former New Westminster Salmonbellie great, is coming out of retirement to sign a free agent contract with the Ravens, it was announced today.
He is joined on the growing Ravens roster by current Western Lacrosse Association stalwarts Peter Morgan, also of the Salmonbellies, and Kyle Goundrey of the Maple Ridge Burrards.
Darren Reisig of Victoria, a member of the WLA-leading Shamrocks, and Jeff Gombar of Port Moody, B.C., a goaltender with the Okanagan Thunder, signed tryout agreements in May and are expected to sign formal contracts this week.
The Ravens will also spend the next week signing players whose rights they acquired in the NLL expansion draft last month.
"We're following a game plan that we mapped out right from the outset," said Paul Dal Monte of Burnaby, B.C., Director of Lacrosse Operations and Head Coach of the Vancouver Ravens. "We wanted to build a respectable expansion roster from the NLL expansion draft, from the talent pool of unaffiliated players here in British Columbia and by possibly trading for select players who will complement that base. We have a lot of work to do, but we expect to have a good core of players on board by the end of the month."
Although Hieltjes has not played on a full-time basis in six years, he is regarded as one of the best players in the modern history of the Western Lacrosse Association. He led the Salmonbellies to the Mann Cup final in 1995.
"Ben gives us tremendous value on and off the floor," said Dal Monte. "We expect his experience to help on the floor and in the locker room, particularly with some of the younger guys who will be part of the mix for us in our inaugural season."
Kyle Goundrey of the Maple Ridge Burrards is currently fourth in the Western Lacrosse Association in scoring. He is second in assists. In 2000, he finished fifth on the Burrards' scoring parade with 19 goals and 42 assists.
Peter Morgan of the New Westminster Salmonbellies was selected second overall in the WLA junior draft in 1999. He played in 22 games for the Salmonbellies in 2000, scoring 32 goals and 36 assists. Morgan has signed on the understanding that he will split his time between his responsibilities with the Simon Fraser University Clan men's varsity basketball team and the expansion Ravens of the NLL.
"Kyle Goundrey and Peter Morgan will be great additions to the National Lacrosse League in general and the Vancouver Ravens in particular," said Dave Evans of Langley, B.C., the general manager of the Vancouver NLL franchise.
"Morgan exemplifies the solid BC talent that hasn't played in the league because of family, work or school commitments and we fully expect he'll prove he belongs right from the outset. Goundrey returns to the league after playing for Baltimore in the early 1990s right out of junior and we're pleased he's prepared to make that commitment."
With the NLL regular season now four months away, the Ravens are expected to announce other player signings in the coming two weeks, along with a full slate of assistant coaches and scouts.
The National Lacrosse League will release its 2001-2002 regular season schedule by early August. It is expected the Ravens will make their debut in mid-November, with their first available home date at General Motors Place, Saturday, December 1st.