Pace picked top rookie

by Gary Ahuja

Tyler Pace has proven to be worth the wait.

Drafted first overall in 2017 by the Langley Thunder, Pace played just one game last season. But after playing a full 18-game Western Lacrosse Association season in 2018, he showed just why he was a top pick.

The 23-year-old right-handed forward – originally from Port Coquitlam but who now calls Coquitlam home – led Langley with 65 points and was second with 30 goals, going just one game the entire season without finding the back of the net.

And on Wednesday (Aug. 15), Pace was named the winner of the Ed Bayley Memorial Trophy as the WLA Rookie of the Year.

Pace becomes the third member of the Thunder organization to win the award, joining Brodie MacDonald (2011) and Anthony Malcom (2015) as recipients of the honour.

“It is pretty special,” Pace said, admitting he didn’t even initially know he was eligible. “This was not something I was expecting.”

But as much as individual awards are a nice feather in the cap, Pace was quick to put the focus back on a burgeoning Thunder team which took a big step this past season.

“I didn’t have any goals this season, just play my best and help my team win,” he said. “That is how I have approached the game for as long as I can remember, sort of a team mentality rather than an individual mentality. I think that has gotten me to where I am today.”

And the Thunder feel this is just the tip of the iceberg for Pace.

“He is an elite level talent with a very high lacrosse IQ and his finish around the net is exceptional,” said Thunder general manager Rob Buchan. “The ceiling is very high for Tyler and we have only seen a small sample size of what he can do.

“He is a player we are going to count on for leadership and point production for many years to come.”

At six-feet and 190 pounds, Pace does not cut an imposing figure on the lacrosse floor. What does stand out is his ability to think the game with Langley head coach Rod Jensen drawing comparisons to another Thunder player, Garrett Billings, a pretty lofty comparison.

“They remind me of each of other the way they think a half second ahead of everybody,” Jensen said.

What also stands out is Pace’s drive and determination, no matter what the defenders throw his way.

“He sure goes and delivers. He is not afraid to go to the dirty areas. He almost got his head taken off five times coming across the crease, but it never stopped him,” Jensen marvelled.

“He knows when to drive the net and he has great balance. He gets pumped by a couple of guys, but he is like a rubber man, he is able to keep his balance – he bends but does not break. Just great balance.”


For more information:

Gary Ahuja, Langley Events Centre, 604.613.5242 (cell), 604.455.8830 (office) or email.