Darren Kinnear went into his final season of junior lacrosse hoping to get noticed by a team in the National Lacrosse League.
His dream came true as he was picked in the sixth round and 46th overall by the Calgary Roughnecks in the NLL draft Wednesday in Toronto.
“I always hoped to be drafted, but there were a lot of good guys this season,” he said. “So I was a bit surprised.”
He was also surprised that the Roughnecks were the team that selected him as his head coach of his Edmonton Miners junior A team also coached the Edmonton Rush in the NLL.
“He talked to me about coming to (their) camp next season on a tryout basis,” explained Kinnear. “I never talked with anyone from Calgary, so that surprised me as well.”
The 21-year-old turned in a solid season with the Miners, leading the team with 29 goals and 24 assists. It was his second year of junior A after playing his minor lacrosse in Red Deer. He played with the Red Deer Rampage in the Rocky Mountain Junior B Tier I League before moving north.
“It was the next step I needed to take,” said Kinnear, who has always been an offensive threat.
“I was always one of the better offensive players. It came to me when I was young and stuck with me,” he said. “But I also have to keep learning.”
Kinnear has been involved in the sport since he was five.
“My dad (Greg) got me involved and he coached me a lot coming up,” he said.
There was a difference between junior B and junior A, especially in the speed of the game.
“Everything is quicker. The passes are harder and you’re always constantly on the move. Plus it’s harder hitting, In junior B it’s a little slack where you work the offence more.”
The six-foot-two, 185-pound Kinnear got a chance to watch the NLL on several occasions and understands it’s another step up.
“It looks like fun, but I need to put on a couple of pounds. I’d like to be 200-pounds but I want to do it properly. I want the weight to stay on not lose it and I sweat it out.”
Kinnear has also played hockey, including a season with the Rimbey Rock in the Heritage Junior B League in 2009-10.
“I was hoping to play with the (junior B) Red Deer Vipers last season, but was working up north and couldn’t make it,” he explained. “I always enjoyed hockey as it kept me in shape during the winter.”
Kinnear will attend the Roughnecks training camp, but isn’t about to make any predictions.
“We’ll see how it goes,” he said. “If I don’t make it I’ll likely play senior A or B in Edmonton and keep working on my game.”
He may also look at taking a scholarship to an American school.
“If you’re listed by a NLL team you can’t go to school, but if not then I may see what my options are. I talked with a couple of schools before.”
But right now he’s working full time and planning on finding a way to work on his lacrosse skills this winter.
“I’ll work out as much as I can and keep a stick in my hand and throw the ball around a bit,” he said.
Calgary is one of the top teams in the NLL, finishing first in the West Conference last season with an 11-5 record. They lost to Washington in the league semifinal.