Western Division Stars: Where are they now?

by Ron White

Oscar Hagborg-Olsson (Arizona Redhawks/Hawks, 2012-14)

Hagborg-Olsson is the all-time leader in goals for the Arizona organization with his 55 tallies over the course of two seasons in the desert.  To go along with his 55 goals, the Swedish forward had 51 assists in his 91 games.

After the WSHL: “I have been studying business at a university here in Sweden the last three years, and I just graduated from the program this summer.  Alongside my studies, I have been playing hockey in Division 2 for a team called Hallstahammar HK.”

Favorite Memory with Arizona: “All the good times with my two billet families.  They welcomed me with open arms and I will never forget that.  But my best memory is probably when we beat the Colorado Eagles on the road 4-2 and I scored all four goals.”


Mike Nolan (Fresno Monsters, 2013-16)

Nolan played three seasons with the Monsters, and he left with every franchise scoring record he could.  He is tops in Fresno history in goals (106), assists (178) and points (284).  He also put up points in the postseason, with 12 goals and 14 assists in 19 games during his WSHL career.

After the WSHL: “Since I left the WSHL, I’ve been focusing a lot on school.  I’m taking finance at the college I’m attending, and in the summer I’m currently doing real estate.  All of this is helping me set myself up for when hockey will be over so I can have a career path I am excited about.  In regards to hockey, I am playing for the College of Saint Scholastica (NCAA D-III) which was a very tough adjustment at first, but I am ready to make the next step as an impact player night in and night out in my second season.”  Nolan had one goal and four assists in 18 games during his first season at College of Saint Scholastica. 

Favorite Memory with Fresno: “My favorite memory as a Monster is a very tough question.  The reason it’d be so tough is because of how many memories I made while wearing that jersey.  If I had to pick one, it would be in the Thorne Cup in my first year when we were down to Idaho by a goal with a minute left.  I was a third line guy, but my coach decided to throw me on as the extra attacker.  Idaho was always my favorite team to play against because of how fast the games were.  When the puck dropped, I just tried to get away from my man and find some open ice.  The puck almost came out and I was all alone when someone took a shot and it bounced right on my stick.  I shot it, and tied the game with only a few seconds left.  My dad was in the crowd, which made it even that much better.  We continued on to win the game where Carter Dahl scored the OT winner.”


Tomas Nemeth (Long Beach Bombers, 2013-15)

Nemeth played four seasons in the WSHL, two of those with the Long Beach Bombers.  The Slovakian forward appeared in 87 games with the Bombers from 2013-15, scoring 72 goals to go with his 133 assists.  He then moved to the Oklahoma City Blazers, where he cemented his place in WSHL history by becoming the all-time leader in points, 325 points (115 goals, 210 assists) in just 148 games.

After the WSHL: “Last year, as an aged out junior player, I went back to Oklahoma City during the summer to practice and train, hoping for a pro contract.  I got an offer to come to the main camp of the Wheeling Nailers (ECHL) where I was for a few weeks at the beginning of October.  I’ll tell you it was the best experience of my life so far, and I wouldn’t change it for anything else.  I got cut from there and didn’t have too many options after that because the season was about to start and rosters were almost filled up.  So I decided to join my great buddy from Sweden, Carl Lyden, and went to South Muskoka Shield (GMHL) and played my final junior year in Canada.  I’m training this summer twice as hard as before, hoping to get some opportunity this upcoming season with some pro team in North America, because that’s where I want to play in the future.  We’ll see how things work out, but I’m hoping and praying and working my hardest for the best possible thing to happen.”

Favorite Memory with Long Beach: “Long Beach is a great place to play hockey for us European players, and as you can see it is just getting better there every single year.  California life is something unreal for us that had never been there before, and I can highly recommend to go play hockey and live in California.  There is nothing better.  I have lots of great memories from there, met a lot of great people out there and just living by the beach is something that everyone dreams about.  I still keep in touch with my great billet where it all started and visiting my “second home” as much as possible.  I got to know great players from all over the world, and made some life-long friends and had some of the best line-mates, brothers and roommates, which is something I will never forget.  I’m very glad I played two of my junior years for Long Beach.  It was a great experience, and I have memories for a lifetime that I can talk about over and over again, and it will never get old.”


Zechariah Roberts (Ontario Avalanche, 2012-15)

Roberts played 133 games with the Avalanche over three seasons from 2012-15.  His 94 assists are most all-time in Ontario history.  The Corona, California-native also had 45 goals in his junior career.

After the WSHL: “Since leaving the WSHL, I am going into my junior year at Liberty University, playing on the ACHA D-I team and majoring in Business Finance.  I love it at Liberty.  It’s a big Christian school, so I get to grow my faith daily and play the sport I love in front of 3,000 students on campus.  It is very humbling, coming from about 100-150 fans in Ontario.  I enjoyed a successful freshman year, having five goals and 12 assists in 31 games.  I was also awarded Rookie of the Year.  This past year, I helped the team, as a sophomore, win a conference championship in our first year in the conference, and had eight goals and 16 assists.”

Favorite Memory with Ontario: “In Ontario, we wear this bible verse on the back of our shirts.  Proverbs 27:17 “Iron sharpens iron, as so one man sharpens another.”  Over the span of three years, my favorite memories came from just that, interacting and going to battle with a great group of guys every day, especially the two teammates who lived with me (Kevin Leuenberger and Calle Hallberg).  My favorite on-ice memory with the Avalanche was scoring a double-overtime game-winning goal against the Valencia Flyers, ending their 11-game winning streak.  I’d also like to thank our owner, Tom Meyer, who is the best in the league in my opinion.  He always makes the right call and will do anything to make the players happy and the team better.  I wouldn’t be where I am today without Mr. Meyer giving myself and many other the opportunity to play in such a great organization.”


Kelby Minshull (Phoenix Knights, 2012-14)

Minshull was the captain of the Knights in 2013-14, when the team won their division and made it to the Thorne Cup Finals.  He played 100 games for the Knights, and is one of the best offensive defensemen in franchise history.  In those 100 games, he had 26 goals and 64 assists.  He was a point-a-game defensemen (2 goals, 8 assists in 10 games) during the team’s playoff run in 2013-14.

After the WSHL: “Since the WSHL, I now have two young boys, a 2-year-old and a 6-month-old.  I’m working in the oilfield in Manitoba, playing senior hockey in the winter and racing motocross in the summer.”

Favorite Memory with Phoenix: “My favorite memories of the Phoenix Knights would be making it to the Thorne Cup, long road trips with the boys and the nice weather living in Arizona.”


Dominik Synek (Phoenix Knights, 2015-16)

Synek played just one season with the Knights, but made his presence known in what was his first season of hockey in North America.  In 44 games, the Czech Republic-native had 33 goals and 32 assists, leading the team in scoring during the 2015-16 season.

After the WSHL: “After my season in the WSHL, I came back to the United States to play pro hockey.  Last season, I played for the Berlin River Drivers in the Federal Hockey League.  We had a good run through the season, but we lost in the final, 3 games to 2.  I had a really good season (34 goals and 43 assists) and won the Rookie of the Year.”  Synek plans to play in the SPHL (Southern Professional Hockey League) during the 2017-18 season.

Favorite Memory with Phoenix: “My best memories are that I met so many great people and made a lot of great friendships, especially my awesome billet family.  They were, and still are, people who I truly love and I’m planning to visit them next summer.  I was part of a great group of guys and coach that season.  They really made my beginnings in a different nation and culture so much easier.  Arizona is the best place I’ve ever been in the United States and it always will be part of my life.”


Eric Baldwin (San Diego Gulls/Sabers, 2010-14)

Baldwin played four seasons with the hometown San Diego Gulls, and is the franchise’s all-time leader in points, goals and assists.  Over his time in San Diego, Baldwin had 52 goals and 70 assists in 141 games.  In his final season of junior hockey, he was traded to the El Paso Rhinos where he helped the Rhinos win the 2014 Thorne Cup Finals.

After the WSHL: “I’ve been playing hockey at Iowa State, and I’ll be going into my final season.”  Iowa State is an ACHA program.  Baldwin has continued to have success in his two years at Iowa State.  He has 39 goals and 38 assists in 46 games.

Favorite Memory with San Diego: “My favorite memory with San Diego is when Eric Duong scored against the Idaho Jr. Steelheads.”  Duong played two seasons in the WSHL, both with San Diego, and had one goal and 11 assists in 82 games. 


Austin Ehrlich (Valencia Flyers, 2011-14)

Ehrlich played three seasons with Valencia, and captained the Flyers in his final season in 2013-14.  Over the three years, the local product had 76 goals and 98 assists in 130.  His 98 assists are still most in Valencia history, and is second all-time in points for the Flyers.

After the WSHL: “Since I left the WSHL, I went to play at Arizona State University.  I played on the Division-II club team for the first two years at ASU, finishing 3rd and 5th in the nation, respectively.  My junior year, I played on the Division-I club team, and finished #10 in the nation.  I am currently in my senior year, majoring in Technological Entrepreneurship and Management with a minor in Sustainability.”

Favorite Memory with Valencia: “My best memory while playing for the Flyers was scoring the game-winning goal in overtime in Game 2 of the second round against the Fresno Monsters.  I was a rookie, and Fresno was the heavy favorite, so to score that goal that forced a Game 3 was amazing.  Nothing beats being on the road and spending time with your 25 brothers, and the Flyers gave me those opportunities.”


Brian Voogt (Valencia Flyers, 2006-08)

Voogt played two seasons with Valencia, and was the greatest goal scorer that the Flyers have ever seen.  Playing for the hometown Flyers, Voogt scored a franchise record 90 goals in just 92 games.  He also sits fourth in Valencia history with 158 points.

After the WSHL: “Since leaving the WSHL, I went on to play three years at College of the Canyons (ACHA) where I won a National Championship.”  In his three seasons at College of the Canyons, Voogt had 151 goals and 115 assists in 71 games.  His goal, assist and point totals are still tops in the school’s history.

Favorite Memory with Valencia: “My favorite memory has to be just hanging with the team and traveling to play hockey.  Making some good friendships along the way and still staying in touch.  Also the rivalries between the teams were exciting.”


Follow your Western Division correspondent, Steven Force, for updates all season long (@Steven_Force_)

Photo courtesy of Marc Mauno