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Halifax Thunderbirds bolster defence at NLL draft

The Halifax Thunderbirds inserted more key elements into their roster during Thursday's National Lacrosse League draft.

The Thunderbirds opened the event with the selection of defender Ethan Riggs with the 11th overall pick and then quickly followed up with an aggressive trade to acquire Tyson Bell from the Calgary Roughnecks. Halifax sacrificed the 14th and 20th overall picks to land the veteran defender.

Riggs is a six-foot-one, 240-pound defender who played for the Burlington Chiefs of the Ontario Junior A Lacrosse League last season and has a reputation as a physical, edgy player.

“If Junior A would have been playing this summer he would have been one of the top picks,” said head coach Mike Accursi in a news release. “He has not hit his ceiling yet, he gives us size and grit. He plays with an edge and doesn't get a lot of penalties. Put him with (Graeme ) Hossack and Soupy (Scott Campbell). That’s a scary left side.”

Bell spent the past five seasons with the Roughnecks after being the 24th pick in the 2015 draft. He won an NLL championship with Calgary in 2019 and represented Canada at the 2018 FIL World Lacrosse Championships in Israel.

“Bell is a great asset to have on our team, it never hurts to have a player like that back there,” Hossack said in a news release. “It’ll be nice to get back to playing with him again.”

The Thunderbirds also added Ryan Terefenko in the second round, forward Matt Gaudet and defenceman Owen Friesen in the third round, goalie Dustin Hill in fifth and forward Brett Draper of Dartmouth in the sixth.

The Thunderbirds added depth to their already solid defensive corps with the draft.

“We were trying to shore up our defence with young talented defenders,” said Accursi. “We did that tonight with Riggs, Bell, Terefenko and Friesen. They are all fantastic young big defenders that will solidify the strength of our defense for years to come.”

Forward Jeff Teat went first overall to the New York Riptide. He was a standout at Cornell University.

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