2017 THORNE CUP PREVIEW – LONG BEACH BOMBERS
The Western States Hockey League holds the 2017 Thorne Cup Finals April 12-16 in Ogden, UT. Six teams will fight it out for the league’s most prized hardware. Each team will play three preliminary round games with the top four qualifying for Saturday’s semifinals. The last two teams standing will go head-to-head in Sunday’s championship game.
The Long Beach Bombers are representing the Western Division as the winners of the divisional playoffs.
LONG BEACH BOMBERS – WESTERN DIVISION CHAMPIONS
Head coach: Chris White
46-5-1, first place – Western Division (best overall record in WSHL)
365 GF / 115 GA
Defeated Phoenix Knights, 2 games to 0, in Western Division Semifinal
Defeated Valencia Flyers, 2 games to 0, in Western Division Final
April 12 – Wichita Jr. Thunder, 3:30 p.m.
April 13 – Ogden Mustangs, 7:30 p.m.
April 14 – Valencia Flyers, 3:30 p.m.
LONG BEACH SPECIAL TEAMS
POWER PLAY 67/209 (32.1%, 1st in WSHL)
PENALTY KILL 27/231 (88.3%, 3rd in WSHL – 20 SHG)
F Anton Bowallius (19-72-91, fourth in the WSHL in assists), F Roman Serafimovich (37-48-85), F Kiril Markevich (34-48-82), F Anders Romegard (13-8-21 in 6 GP since returning from Sweden), F Robert Roslund (21-55-76), F Ludwig Rosen (20-53-73), D Nick Short (18-54-72, top-scoring defenseman in WSHL), D Amir Burguev (12-39-51), D Cal Owens (6-17-23 in 27 GP, team captain), G Domenic Bosetti (27-4-1/2.05/.922, tied for league lead in wins)
The Long Beach Bombers are the longest-standing members of the WSHL and won the first two Thorne Cup titles in 1995 and 1996 as the Anaheim Jr. Ducks. However, the franchise had not experienced much recent playoff success until last year, when they went on a run all the way to the conference finals under the previous playoff format. They swept Fresno and Valencia on their way through the 2016 divisional playoffs before running into the eventual Thorne Cup champion Idaho Jr. Steelheads, who knocked them out in two games.
Long Beach repeated as Western Division playoff champs this year, again defeating Valencia in the division final, after posting the best record in the league during the regular season.
Adding to the Bombers resume as serious contenders in Ogden is their 10-1-0 mark against the Thorne Cup field. They have had an opportunity to compete against four of the five other teams and can look forward to a re-match with rival Valencia in their final round-robin game.
The highest-scoring team in the WSHL during their dominant regular season, the Bombers can trade chances with anybody in the league, with four 30-goal scorers and four more to hit the 20-goal mark. They also boast solid play in their own end and have been getting elite goaltending from veteran Domenic Bosetti.
So the Bombers will certainly be in contention if they just worry about themselves and play their game, but at this time of year everybody is looking for an edge and Long Beach head coach and general manager Chris White is grateful he’s had the opportunity to see most of the competition this year. The Bombers went up against Valencia eight times and faced Colorado, Idaho and Ogden at the Western States Shootout.
“It is nice that we have played four of the five other Thorne Cup finalists,” said White. “Obviously, three of those teams have made roster moves and adjustments since the showcase, but it gives us a foundation to build on with our preparation.”
The tournament format will call for the finalists to play five games in as many days, making it a tougher task to scout and prepare when compared to a best-of-three or best-of-five series against one team.
“We will not have much time to make adjustments,” White observed. “Pre-scouting and watching games at the event are going to be crucial.”
With that being said, White and the Bombers are certainly looking forward to the challenge. They will play Ogden as the road team, and are also preparing for Wichita and Valencia.
“Our group showed we could make daily adjustments in Las Vegas,” White said of the league’s December showcase. “We will need to do the same in Ogden.”
--- compiled by Harrington Sports Media