The Langley Thunder boasts the Western Lacrosse Association’s best defence in the early going, and Vernon’s Brodie MacDonald is huge piece of that.
It’s only nine games into the senior A season, and MacDonald leads the league in both goals-against average (7.25) and save percentage (.822). Surprisingly mobile for a 6-foot-7, 245-pounder, he credits his teammates for allowing him to play his style.
“I’m just playing my game – staying big, seeing the ball well,” said MacDonald, 23.
“Our system and myself work very well together. My defence is a big reason I am able to feel comfortable challenging the ball.”
Langley has parlayed its air-tight defence into second place at 5-3-1. They might be in the WLA penthouse if it weren’t for the league’s worst offence (8.55 goals per game). However, MacDonald had no doubt the Thunder offence will find its rhythm.
“The offence has been a notoriously slow starter in seasons past,” he said. “The only thing worrying about the offence would do is jeopardize our ability to do our jobs (on defence) properly.”
Once the offence does start to click, MacDonald believes the Thunder have the talent to make a serious push for a third straight Mann Cup appearance. They were unsuccessful in their last two national championships, falling to the Brampton Excelsiors in the organization’s Mann Cup debut 2011, and to the Peterborough Lakers last year.
“We have only gotten better since our first Mann experience,” said MacDonald. “I believe we are the best in the west again, and I don’t think there’s anyone in our room who would disagree.”
While MacDonald has long had the physical tools to fill the crease, Langley assistant coach Fred Klomp says MacDonald is also rounding out his mental game as he matures.
Klomp points to Langley’s season opener when MacDonald got shelled for seven goals by the host Maple Ridge Burrards in the first period. Rather than wilt, MacDonald came back and allowed zero goals in the second and three in the third to give Langley a 13-10 win.
“It was a jammed building in Maple Ridge and he single-handedly took the game over,” said Klomp.
“He’s still got a bit of a temper, but he’s really become mentally prepared.”
MacDonald held backup duty for the NLL Edmonton Rush last season, compiling a 1-2 record with an 8.03 GAA and .795 SAV. Despite the limited role, just being around the pro team helped his confidence.
“I’ve gotten a lot of great experience in Edmonton over past two seasons,” he said. “Great guys and great coaching. I am now to a point in my NLL career where I believe I can get more starts. That is something I will have to discuss with the coaching staff and management this offseason.”
Added Klomp: “Unfortunately he sits behind Aaron (Bold) in Edmonton, so he doesn’t get too much time in the NLL. But everyone knows he’s very good.”
And if the WLA suddenly has no need of towering, fleet-footed netminders that play with an edge, MacDonald has some legitimate woodworking and shop skills to fall back on. He recently helped restore and customize a gorgeous motorcycle for his brother’s friend. Other shop projects include stand-up paddleboards and custom cabinets and furniture.
“I stretched the frame (on the motorcycle), lowered it and hard-tailed it,” he said.
“It’s a fun pastime that, at the moment, is full time as I’m laid off from the cable business,” said MacDonald.
“I’ve learnt a lot of things from my dad and my two grandfathers in the shop. I’ve been puttering around since I was probably four years old.”