It could be hard to envision a different outcome from last season to this in the B.C. Junior A Lacrosse League.
While no one is expecting the Coquitlam Adanacs to put together a second straight undefeated season, it's also very likely the A's will be on top for the fifth straight season when the league finishes up in July.
There is also little chance of the big 4 - Coquitlam, New Westminster, Victoria and Delta - running into too much trouble against the lesser four clubs, which have made only modest improvements over the last two seasons.
After New West lost more than a dozen graduating players to the Western Lacrosse Association draft in February, the Salmonbellies will also have to make do for the first half of the season without team leaders Tyler Digby and Brandon Goodwin, who are both currently on field scholarships to eastern U.S. schools.
"The beginning of the season is going to be a little tough," said New Westminster junior A general manager Doug Zack.
However, the Salmonbellies, which finished runner-up in league play for the past two seasons, has received strong support at its spring training camp from 30 young hopefuls.
Jacob Doucette from North Vancouver is one of the 'Bellies' pleasant early surprises, said Zack, who is also counting on Rocky Bowman to handle the goalkeeping chores until Frankie Scigliano returns from his debut season in the pro National Lacrosse League. Bowman will then be lost for much of July when he joins Team Canada for the World under-19 field championships.
"It's not going to be easy," Zack said. "I think the other four teams are getting closer. It's going to be a better alignment this year."
Another roadblock is a Canadian Lacrosse Association ruling that restricts clubs to just two player transfers, down from five last year, from Ontario and Alberta.
"It makes a big difference and makes it tough," Zack added. "It makes it very tough."
Burnaby is still a number of years away from competing with the current leaders, admitted team president and GM Richard Appels. "In the next couple of years we'll be a little bit better," he said.
Tyler Buchan of Burnaby should be the best of a new crop of junior A Lakers.
Xander McDonald, who had a number of promising starts in goal for the Lakers last season, is also expected to provide a solid presence in goal along with third-year keeper Patrick Bayliss.
Appels also believes there will be a lot more parity in the league but, unlike the Salmonbellies, has not had big numbers out to its preseason camps.
"I've got my season opener coming up in a week and I got 14 runners and four more intermediates," said second-year Burnaby head coach John Wilson, who along with assistant coach Stu Watson hopes to turn around the fortunes of the once storied junior Lakers organization.
"There is no spot on my team that is secure, Wilson said. "We want to change that mentality."
Both Burnaby and New Westminster open their 2012 seasons at home on Sunday. The Salmonbellies host Nanaimo at Queen's Park Arena at 5 p.m.
The Lakers face the Delta Islanders at the Bill Copeland Sports Centre at 7 p.m.
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