Juniors get close look at next big star

The Delta Islanders first overall pick in the midget entry draft is off to a blazing start in the B.C. Junior Lacrosse League

The New Westminster Salmonbellies lost their second straight B.C. Junior Lacrosse League game. This time to the junior A league’s next rising star.

Tre Leclaire, who just turned 17, scored four goals and chipped in with an assist on a fifth to lead the unbeaten Delta Islanders to a 9-4 victory over the 1-2 ’Bellies at Queen’s Park Arena on Tuesday.

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Leclaire, who was claimed by Delta No. 1 overall in the midget entry draft during the off season, currently leads all scorers in the eight-team loop with 17 points, including nine goals.

With nine goals and eight helpers in his first three games, Leclaire has all the stick skills necessary to keep pace with the league scoring leaders. But at 6-1 and 205 pounds, and likely still to add an inch or two, the Elgin Park Secondary student is more than just a new stick on the block.

He has a past-first mentality and the vision to see the open spaces, and gets the ball out of his stick quickly. Without the ball, Leclaire is a hound on the loose ball and in creating forced turnovers.

He says many skills were learned, but a lot of more were honed playing with his two older brothers in the backyard while growing up.

“When we get out on the same shift we know what we’re going to do,” he said.

“I like it fast, keep the tempo going and keep my head up. I like to get inside and use the outside shot.

At Queen’s Park, Leclaire opened the scoring with an unassisted tally and then closed the period with his second goal of the game.

After Delta drove New West’s starting goalie Michael Flintoff from the game midway through the second period, Leclaire made it clear to backup Tyler Landry what he was in for with a wicked overhand goal from the top circle on the first shot on net.

The Semiahmoo club sniper closed the chapter on Tuesday’s win with an overpowering windup that blew by Landry for the final goal of the game.

“I fit into the offence pretty well,” said Leclaire after the game.

Few in attendance would have disagreed.

Leclaire has already verbally committed to the University of Delaware on a field lacrosse scholarship for the 2016 season, but box remains his favourite of the two.

“I love both, but box is a lot faster and there’s more contact,” he said.

For lacrosse fans that translates to five more seasons of junior lacrosse to enjoy the talented righthander.

Leclaire’s presence on an Islanders’ team that for the past few seasons has been knocking on the door of junior A respectability, just might mean Delta’s time is coming.

It’s all about contributing to the team and at the end of the day getting that W, Leclaire said.

“That’s our goal, to beat these big dogs and make it to the Minto Cup. I think we can do it. We just have to put in the work,” he said.

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