WSHL WEEKLY NOTES 10.06.17 – WESTERN DIVISION
FRESNO MONSTERS (0-3-0)
Despite being swept by Long Beach, the Fresno Monsters have to feel good about themselves. With barely enough skaters available to field a team, the club went toe-to-toe with the defending Western Division champions.
All three games against the Bombers were decided by just one goal. After falling behind 3-0 through one period of the opening game, the Monsters fought back and nearly won before ultimately losing by a 5-4 final.
“We knew going into Long Beach it was going to be a battle, as they always have a great team,” said Monsters Head Coach Kevin Kaminski.
“It was a tough weekend, but with only 12 skaters available on Thursday and 13 on Friday, the boys showed a lot of character, resiliency, heart, and toughness.
“We deserved better—we could be 3-0. So we have to build off of this and keep working like we played last weekend and we will get results.”
Overall, Kaminski was impressed with how every one of his players performed against the Bombers.
“Everyone stood out with the way they played, with their hearts on their sleeve and plenty of passion. We are excited to be back in Fresno at Gateway for our home opener in front of our awesome fans. We know they’ll be rockin’ the Monsters.”
Fresno will be tested again this weekend as it takes on undefeated Valencia at home in a three-game series.
LONG BEACH BOMBERS (3-0-0)
Similar to what they did all of last season, the Long Beach Bombers found a way to win.
Despite a monster effort from a depleted Fresno squad, the Bombers emerged from their season-opening series with a perfect 3-0-0 record.
Veteran forward Tomas Urbanec is off to a quick start, with four goals and an assist over his first three games.
Urbanec seems primed for a huge year after playing in just 29 games last season. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see him near the top of the league scoring race.
Forward Miroslav Rohlik is also playing well early on with four goals and an assist of his own.
Rohlik, a rookie, is playing his first season in North America after making his way through the U16-U20 Czechoslovakian leagues.
Long Beach will play a two-game set against San Diego this week beginning Thursday night at Glacial Garden Arena.
The San Diego series will be followed by the Bombers’ first road series of the season, a three-gamer at Arizona Ice against Phoenix.
You can check out the Bombers’ Instagram account, @lbbombershockey, for highlights from the Fresno series.
ONTARIO AVALANCHE (2-1-0)
Winners of two of their first three games, the Ontario Avalanche can’t be too upset with their first few games of the season.
Taking on a much-improved Tahoe squad, the Avs took four of six possible points.
In both wins, goaltender Filip Subrt was in between the pipes. Subrt is in his third year with Ontario and still seems to be improving after stopping 67 of the 71 shots he saw, a .947 save percentage.
The 6-foot-3, 190-pound Slovakian native has compiled a save percentage of at least .910 and a sub-3.20 GAA in each of his two seasons with the Avs. He has been especially strong in the postseason, with a 2.00 GAA to go along with a .951 save percentage.
Having a netminder as talented as Subrt can be a huge help in a league with plenty of prolific offensive attacks.
Head coach Rob O’Rourke and his staff have to be thrilled with the early results they’ve seen from Subrt.
Ontario will play its home opener on Friday night against Phoenix. The two clubs are scheduled to play a three-game series.
PHOENIX KNIGHTS (0-3-0)
The Phoenix Knights ran into a red-hot Valencia team last weekend, and it resulted in three consecutive losses.
Phoenix, which is still expecting an improved team after missing the playoffs last year, lost by scores of 9-2, 4-1, and 4-0.
Luckily, one series does not decide a season. The Knights will have a chance to redeem themselves this weekend when they travel to Ontario for a three-game set against the Avalanche.
In limited action behind starter Cody Call, goaltender Alexander Kinlaw was solid in just 14 minutes of playing time.
Kinlaw was extremely busy as he faced 23 shots in his brief time on the rink, but he still managed to stop 21 of them, giving him a .920 save percentage.
After the Ontario series, Phoenix will enter a difficult portion of its schedule that features back-to-back series against Long Beach and Fresno.
It will be a good test for a young team looking to make some noise in the division race.
SAN DIEGO SABERS (0-0-0)
The San Diego Sabers’ offseason will conclude this weekend when they travel to Long Beach for a pair of games.
The Sabers enjoyed a comeback season last year, finishing .500 after a 2015-16 season that saw them collect just 21 points.
Still, after a division-quarterfinal loss to Ontario, the Sabers are looking for more.
Because two of San Diego’s first five series are against Las Vegas and Arizona, two clubs that recently announced their decision to go dormant for the season, the Sabers will have even more time off in the coming weeks.
It gives head coach Petr Karnkovsky plenty of time to make adjustments during the season and prepare for the grind of playing into the spring.
San Diego has taken advantage of its late start to the season and has been busy in the community. A couple of weeks ago, the team hosted a meet-and-greet with fans.
A few days later, Sabers players volunteered at the Walk to End Alzheimer’s. To stay updated on the Sabers’ community events and more, you can follow them on their Twitter account, @sdsabershockey.
VALENCIA FLYERS (6-0-0)
Through the first two weeks of the season, no one can stop the streaking Valencia Flyers.
Valencia has taken care of business in its first couple of series against Arizona and Phoenix. The Flyers have outscored their opponents 57-13, which has led to a WSHL-best 12 points
Valencia is doing a fantastic job at sharing the wealth on offense. Of the 20 skaters that have suited up for the Flyers, all but four have found the back of the net at least once.
Additionally, 19 of the 20 have recorded at least one point.
Forward Joseph Hebert has an early lead in the club scoring race with a line of 5-16-21, closely followed by Jason Hickman’s 6-13-19 and Jakob Kranabetter’s 4-13-17.
Heading into this weekend, that trio represents the top three scorers in the league.
Dawson Keay’s nine goals are a team-high, and are the second-most scored by any player in the WSHL.
Valencia will likely face steeper competition this week as it tries to maintain its perfect record. The club takes on Fresno on the road in a three-game series.
After this weekend, the Flyers will be off until a home-and-home series against Ontario on October 20-21.
--- Jared Tennant for Harrington Sports Media