Quick Look: Long Beach Bombers

by Manny Brizuela

The Long Beach Bombers are entering their 25th season as a member of the WSHL and hope to make this season a special one. Over the last several years the Bombers have had relatively successful campaigns in winning three consecutive Western Division titles. Reaching the post season is beginning to feel like normality for the Bombers and because of it the expectations call for nothing less than a Thorne Cup.

Long Beach finished with a 36-11-4 record to enter the playoffs last year. They were responsible for tainting an unblemished El Paso Rhinos home record when they beat the Rhinos at the Thorne Cup.

“Last year, we definitely faced some adversity. We had a terrible performance at the WSHL Showcase, we had a lot of nagging minor injuries, and we were very thin at the goaltending position, for much of the year,” Head Coach Chris White said.

“We picked up some players, mid-season and at the deadline, which definitely helped us. I think we played a very strong game against El Paso, at the Thorne Cup, and then had a very difficult call go against us in Game 2, on a disallowed goal, against Ogden. It really changed our plans for Game 3. We ended up backing into the Final Four after a loss, and I think we were just gassed once we hit the ice for the Semi-Finals, both physically and mentally.”

(Mark Mauno Photo of Miroslav Rohlik) 

The Bombers boast a variety of talent at all positions and Coach White feels the depth they always seem to have over the course of a season is intact. Incoming talent is crucial for the continuation of deep season runs; yet, it always hurts when valuable production is lost.

“We lost some great players: Amir Burguev, Miroslav Rohlik, Ryan Gil, Spencer Kozlowski, Anton Ahlin, Erik Lundgren, and even part-timers like Erik Fagerlin and Joel Larsson. Those are experienced veteran impact players,” said Coach White.

“However, we have some new guys that are certainly going to be top guys for us. Up front, Diego Gluck, Gennady Malaschenko, Eric Lovstrand, & Erik Sillerstrom should all be very strong players. On the back end, Jakob Kabring, Emil Karlsson, and Richard Lindelof have all impressed. We're just getting a look at Denis Salnikov, and I think he could be a real nice addition to our back-end, much like youngsters Filip Chudy and Shawn Migabo could be for our forward core, as the season moves along.”

(Mark Mauno Photo of Amir Burguev) 

Burguev (12-46-58) was team captain, provided a versatile role in different positions and a member of the Bombers since 2014-15. Rohlik (39-43-82) was the second leading scorer and was invaluable for his team in the playoffs notching 11-points. Secondary point producers in Anton Ahlin (11-36-47), Ryan Gil (5-7-12) and Eric Lundgren (11-41-52)  combined for 37-points in post-season play.   

The shifting of players, pairing of lines and awarded ice-time is shaping the team to reflect a team identity that doesn’t hold back. They have size down the middle, assert skill along the wings and talent in the back-end while also entrusting their four-year veteran in net, Dominic Bosetti.

“We have great team speed, and a goaltender that has seen and done it all. There are always adjustments to be made for our European players, in addition to things we will see in the first month or so of the season,” Coach White said. “So, I don't expect it to be smooth sailing, but I think we'll be a highly-skilled offensive team, that will need to work hard to be just as good at the other end of the ice.”

Coach White understands that there is work to do with this year’s squad due to the age factor. They don’t have as many 20-year-olds nor returners as prior years, therefore, a longer learning curve is in place. Having said that, lines are pretty much locked-in and looking very much like the lines that will play against San Diego on Friday. The Sabers have already played a weekend series versus the Southern Oregon Spartans and will face the Valencia Flyers on Thursday before meeting Long Beach.