WSHL WEEKLY NOTES 11.07.18 – WESTERN DIVISION
FRESNO MONSTERS (6-4-0, 18 pts)
The Fresno Monsters played a single game last week, travelling to Valencia on Friday. Martin Dlugolinsky and Stanislav Danaev each scored twice in the game for the Monsters, and Cole Beckman’s goal in the final minute of the third period secured a 5-3 win over the Flyers.
It also marked the Monsters debut of their new goaltender, WSHL veteran Tyler Mathews. Mathews, who made 28 saves to pick up the win, has had previous stints in the WSHL with Salt Lake City and Idaho. The 19-year-old began the season with the Maryland Black Bears of the NAHL and provides Fresno head coach Kevin Kaminski with another option between the pipes.
Max Karlenzig has been a workhorse, playing the first nine games and getting solid results (5-4-0/3.29/.907), but having two established veterans can be a huge plus over a 52-game season in a very competitive division like the Western.
Case in point – the Monsters play three-in-three at division leader Long Beach starting Thursday, so it will be interesting to see how Kaminski splits up the starts for his goaltending tandem.
LONG BEACH BOMBERS (9-2-0, 26 pts)
With his first of four assists in Friday’s 5-1 win over the El Paso Rhinos, Tomas Urbanec became the all-time points leader for the 25-year-old Bombers franchise, surpassing Johnny Linehan’s 234 set during a six-year junior career (2007-2013).
Just 38 seconds after the opening faceoff, Erik Sillerstrom skated the puck out of the Long Beach end and through the neutral zone to create a three-on-two for the Bombers. As he crossed the blue line, he passed the puck to Urbanec who was along the right-wing boards, and Sillerstrom went hard to the net. Urbanec’s return shot/pass was re-directed by Sillerstrom, giving the Bombers an early lead.
Urbanec picked up four assists in the game and scored one himself – finishing off a tick-tack-toe passing play for a power play goal with 2:24 remaining that closed out the scoring and put an exclamation point on a huge victory for the Bombers.
“Tomáš is a very talented player that works extremely hard improve his game,” said Long Beach head coach Chris White. “I think the biggest thing we’re trying to focus on with him is consistency; both his game, and mentally.”
White said Urbanec started gripping his stick a little tight when he got to 234 points, and was looking for the perfect play. He went without a point in back-to-back games – a rarity for him. The record-breaking point came on a good breakout, simple zone entry, and he just threw a puck at the net, resulting in an assist and the record.
“I could see the pressure release, for him,” White said. “I’m very proud of him and, as always, I have high expectations for him this season, and in the future.”
Click here to read the official team press release, including quotes from teammates past and present: Patrick Johnasson, Domenic Bosetti and Nick Short:
Amazingly Urbanec has, not just the remaining 41 games in this year’s schedule, but another year of junior eligibility remaining to add on to his career point total should he elect to return to Long Beach for a sixth season with the Bombers as Linehan did.
Urbanec has also moved into the Top 10 on the WSHL’s all-time scoring list. Jakob Kranabetter is the league’s all-time scoring leader with 351 points (113-238-351) amassed over 196 games with the Valencia Flyers and El Paso Rhinos. Kranabetter joined the varsity hockey team at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia this fall after helping the Rhinos to the Thorne Cup last season.
A former Bomber, Tomas Nemeth, is second on the all-time list with 325 points (115-210-325). 205 of those were accrued with Long Beach (2013-2015) and he posted a third 100-point season with the Oklahoma City Blazers in 2015-16. Nemeth is currently playing professional hockey in France.
ONTARIO AVALANCHE (3-5-1, 10 pts)
The Ontario Avalanche had an odd schedule last week, playing three road games in four days against two opponents beginning Thursday in Valencia, with a Saturday off mixed in.
On Thursday, the Flyers came back from 3-1 and 4-2 deficits and protected a one-goal lead for the final 15:55 of the game to claim a 6-5 win. Joseph Aguirre and Jeremy Van Dyke each scored twice for the Avalanche and Connor Duffy stopped 15 of 16 shots in the third period, finishing the game with 41 saves.
The Avalanche continued on to San Diego where they played Friday and Sunday, enjoying a day off Saturday while the Sabers were hosting the Flyers. Ontario rallied from a 4-1 deficit Friday, but the Sabers prevailed, 5-4, in overtime. Duffy entered the game at the start of the second period and stopped all 20 shots he saw over two period, plus another six in overtime, before allowing the game-winner.
The Avalanche returned to the ice in San Diego on Sunday. The Sabers scored 44 seconds into the game, but Ontario kept their cool, scored the next three goals and went on to a 6-2 win.
The Avs play twice this week, hosting the Sabers at Ontario Center Ice Arena Friday and Saturday, but can relax and watch football on Sunday.
SAN DIEGO SABERS (5-7-0, 13 pts)
Three impressive wins over three different division rivals in an eight-day span has the San Diego Sabers in third place in the Western Division, training only Long Beach and Fresno. After posting one-goal wins over Ontario (in overtime) on Friday and Valencia on Saturday, the Sabers ran out of gas playing their third game in three days on Sunday. They fell, 6-2, to the Avalanche, who had taken Saturday off while the Sabers battled the Flyers.
Despite Sunday’s loss those wins, as well as another over Fresno a week prior, should give San Diego some confidence as they head back out on the road this week.
The Sabers have played a lot of close, low-scoring games, and there is no reason to expect that to change any time soon in the Western Division. Goaltening, particularly key saves at key times in games, will play a huge role in the division race.
Goaltender Aleksei Vereshchagin has been a huge part of the Sabers’ success. He sports a 3-2-0 record with a 3.77 goals-against average and .911 save percentage. Marshall McKallip and Tomas Svoboda have also posted wins for the Sabers.
The Western Division grind continues for the Sabers this week as they play at Valencia Thursday, then play two more against the Avalanche, this time in Ontario Friday and Saturday.
VALENCIA FLYERS (3-4-1, 10 pts)
The Valencia Flyers played three games in three days against three different division opponents last weekend. All were close, being decided by one or two goals – such is the parity in the Western Division.
The Flyers picked up three points in the standings, defeating Ontario 6-5 and falling to Fresno (5-3) and San Diego (4-3) and enter play this week tied with Ontario for fourth place in the division.
Tristan Warr, 18, continued to build on a strong start, scoring his second hat trick of the season in Thursday’s win, giving him 10 goals in eight games played this season.
Danylo Moroz has also had a strong start to the season, leading the team with 15 points (7-8-15). Moroz joined the Flyers after putting up 59 points (24-35-59) in 44 games for the Tahoe Icemen last season. He produced an additional nine points (3-6-9) in just four playoff games.
The Flyers have a less complicated schedule this week, staying home and playing a single game against the San Diego Sabers on Thursday and then enjoying a weekend off. They will travel to Fresno the following weekend for three games November 15-17.
--- Compiled by Scott Harrington for Harrington Sports Media