Thunder add new bodies via WLA Draft

by Gary Ahuja

New Westminster's Nikhal Dhandwar (right) was chosen in the first round (seventh overall) in the 2023 WLA Graduating Junior Player Draft. Ryan Molag LEC Photo

The Langley Thunder added six new faces as part of their haul at the 2023 Western Lacrosse Association Graduating Junior Player Draft.

Prior to the draft – which was held virtually at Langley Events Centre on January 31 – the Thunder had used their two Territorial Protection picks on Matt Abbott and Kyle Brunsch, who both played their Junior careers with the Thunder organization.

Abbott was the BC Junior A Lacrosse League’s best face-off player and an all-star defender in 2022 while Brunsch was one of the league’s top offensive players.

Langley would add Nikhal Dhandwar (first round), Ryan Heard (third round), Connor Nichols (fourth round) and Tristan Kirkham (fifth round).

Dhandwar played his Junior lacrosse in New Westminster and is described as an athletic left-hander and a silent leader.

Ryan Heard was selected in the third round. Ryan Molag LEC photo

Heard, who played for the Burnaby Lakers organization, is also a left-handed defender who has a love for the game and has steadily improved the past few years. He is currently played in the Arena Lacrosse League West Division with the Sea Spray.

Nichols is a goaltender from the Coquitlam Adanacs organization. In his final season in the BCJALL, he was second in goals against average (7.59) and fourth in save percentage (.816). He is spending this winter in the ALL with the Shooting Eagles with a 12.57 GAA and .789 save percentage.

Connor Nichols of the Coquitlam Adanacs.  Ryan Molag LEC photo

And with Langley’s final selection, they stayed local, choosing left-handed forward Tristan Kirkham. His game is described as seeing the floor well and having a great outside shot. Kirkham spent time with both the Thunder’s Junior A and Junior Tier 1 teams in 2022, as well as three games with the Senior A Thunder squad as a call-up player.

Tristan Kirkham of the Langley Thunder. Ryan Molag LEC photo