“Once you get playing in the game, nothing matters except the logo on the front of your jersey. Everyone else out there without that logo is just in your way.”Tyler Codron and Mitch Jones are both allies and adversaries.Newcomers to the National Lacrosse League’s Vancouver Warriors this past winter, they’re back to being rivals in the summer, as Codron’s Maple Ridge Burrards face Jones and the New Westminster Salmonbellies in the best-of-seven Western Lacrosse Association semifinals beginning Wednesday at Cam Neely Arena in Maple Ridge.It’s the fourth straight year that the Burrards and the Salmonbellies are squaring off in the post-season, and Codron, a hard-nosed defender, is bound to be frequently assigned to check Jones, the league’s leading scorer in the regular season.“It can get a little weird,” Codron admitted of lacrosse’s duality. “Once you get playing in the game, nothing matters except the logo on the front of your jersey. Everyone else out there without that logo is just in your way.”Codron is one of four players with the Burrards who suited up for Vancouver this past winter. Jones is one of nine on the New West active roster who saw floor time with the Warriors, along with Salmonbellies defender Curtis Hodgson, who retired from NLL play after the 2017 season but still works in the Warriors’ front office as their community coordinator.New West general manager Dan Richardson has the same position with the Warriors. Warriors coach Chris Gill is an assistant with the Burrards, and Salmonbellies coach Rory McDade is an assistant to Gill with the Warriors.Richardson and Gill wanted players familiar with one another in a bid to speed up the rebuild of a Vancouver franchise that has struggled the past few seasons. And WLA talent began filling up NLL rosters more than 20 years ago, so you’d assume that players are used to these double lives on the lacrosse floor.Jones maintains he was accustomed to facing off against various Salmonbellies teammates on Vancouver when he was with the Buffalo Bandits. The Warriors landed him in a trade with the Bandits last November.“Things like bragging rights doesn’t come into it at all,” said Jones, 27, a 6-foot-2, 205 pound left-hander. “You’re thinking about going to battle with your Salmonbellies teammates. That’s it.“You’re always familiar with guys on the other side. It doesn’t change anything.”Jones had five goals and 10 points in New West’s 13-7 win over the Victoria Shamrocks last Thursday that clinched a playoff spot for the Salmonbellies and gave him 31 goals and 90 points on the campaign.The Burrards swept the Salmonbellies in the WLA semifinals last year and part of that was the result of holding Jones to two goals and eight points in the four games.Codron, 32, was one of the guys responsible. He was a regular in the NLL in 2015 with a Colorado Mammoth team that featured Gill on the coaching staff, but tore up his knee the following year. He didn’t make it back into the American-based league until Vancouver signed him as a free agent before this past season.The Warriors announced last week that they had signed Codron to a new two-year deal, meaning he’ll be back in cahoots with Jones come the winter again.
Tyler Codron, a rugged defender for the Maple Ridge Burrards.
Paul Evans Photography
“Playing with somebody like Mitch, you find out even more about how good he is,” Codron, a 6-foot, 205 pound right-hander, explained. “You find out even more about how smart he is on the floor and how well he moves.“It will be challenging to try to slow him down, and I look forward to trying to help us do that.”The WLA is coming off its tightest regular season in recent memory, with three points separating the first-place Shamrocks (12-6-0) and the fifth-place Burnaby Lakers (10-7-1), who lost out in a tiebreaker for the final post-season post to the Nanaimo Timbermen (10-7-1).The Shamrocks and Timbermen begin their semifinal series July 30.Second-place Maple Ridge (12-6-0) took two-of-three from third-place New West (11-7-0) in the regular season.Meanwhile, the Warriors (5-13) missed the playoffs for the fifth time in the past six seasons, but were improved from their 2-16 effort in 2018, when they played under the Vancouver Stealth banner and were based out of the Langley Events Centre.Richardson will be looking to add to that roster this week, with NLL free-agency opening Thursday.WLA playoff scheduleVictoria versus NanaimoTuesday in VictoriaThursday in NanaimoSaturday in VictoriaMonday in Nanaimo*Aug. 7 in Victoria*Aug. 9 in Nanaimo*Aug. 10 in VictoriaMaple Ridge vs. New WestminsterWednesday in Maple RidgeFriday in New WestSunday in Maple RidgeTuesday in New West*Aug. 8 in Maple Ridge*Aug. 10 in New West*Aug. 11 in Maple Ridge*If necessary