CALGARY, AB — Much to the delight of Curt Malawsky, the Calgary Roughnecks selected forward Wesley Berg with the fourth selection of the 2015 NLL Draft.
The Roughnecks’ coach is sure the team got a steal with that pick.
“There’s no question that Berg has been one of my guys for a few years in junior,” Malawsky said. “We targeted him. We thought that he should have been number one. For him to slide to four is a benefit for us.”
The two will form a coach-player relationship for the second time.
Malawsky was Berg’s coach when he played for the Coquitlam Adanacs in junior.
For Berg, getting to reunite with Malawsky — one of his biggest lacrosse mentors — in Calgary is a special feeling.
“It’s pretty special I ended up in Calgary,” said Berg. “He’s a guy that really helped me get my career to the next level when I was really young, about 16, playing junior. He gave me a chance and we won a Minto Cup that first year. I’ve been able to do a lot of good things in lacrosse since then. He’s been a big part of helping me grow as a player.”
Coming into his first NLL training camp, Berg had a pretty good idea of what to expect.
That’s because he understands Malawsky’s systems and how he runs his practices.
There was still some learning, though.
“We do all the drills and he’s right into it because he knows how I do it,” Malawsky said. “We know he’s a quality guy and we always want good people in Calgary. He works hard off the floor just as hard as he works on the floor.”
“About what I expected coming in, a lot of fast-paced drills and running out there,” Berg added. “There’s a lot of stuff systematically that we’ve been doing since junior, a bit of a change in certain areas, but a lot of stuff that I’m familiar with.”
That familiarity could help his ease his transition into the league.
“Hopefully very smoothly. That’s the plan,” Berg said. “I’ve got a good few weeks to get used to the game speed and the little things out there. It’s a bit different than the summer league and junior. I’ve got three weeks to pick it up before the season stars.”
His coach agrees.
“It’ll be a seamless transition for him,” Malawsky said. “Obviously the guys are bigger, faster, stronger in this league, but there’s more net out there too, so he’ll make his hay.”
Being an early draft pick comes with big expectations and an immediate role within the offence.
With the departure of Shawn Evans, Berg’s role in the offence has shifted.
“I think with the movement of Evans, it changed his role,” Malawsky said. “He was going to be a crasher and a banger, similar to what Pollock did last year. But now with Evy gone, he’s going to handle the ball more. I talked to him in his player interview about how he’s going to be expected to handle a more elevated role which he’s going to embrace.”
Malawsky is a big believer in Berg.
In fact, he can’t wait until that fans get to see him play.
He knows that Berg will make everyone believers.
“I’m excited for people to see what he can do,” said Malawsky with a big grin. “I know what he can do and he knows what he can do. I’m excited for people to have that aha moment and say hey wow look at this Wes Berg kid.”