Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Lomberg feels USHL, 'Jacks best fit

Ryan Lomberg
has a dream, and with every hockey phenom like him who chooses the United States Hockey League path to greatness, that dream becomes more of a reality.

“I believe that one day, the USHL and college hockey will be clear-cut better than the OHL (Ontario Hockey League), especially with Canadian players coming over,” the first-year Muskegon Lumberjack said. “I’m proud to be part of that movement.”

Lomberg, a Richmond Hill, Ont., native, was selected sixth overall by the Jacks in the 2011 United States Hockey League Entry Draft. But he was destined for Muskegon long before his name was called and long before he put together an extraordinary performance at the Jacks’ tryout camp in mid-June.

Stuffing the stat sheet is one thing, and Lomberg certainly did just that for Hill Academy last season to the tune of 99 points on 52 goals and 47 assists. His team took part in the Muskegon Winter Showcase at the L.C. Walker Arena in late February. The inaugural event brought in 10 premier AAA teams and featured six members of the Jacks’ current active roster.

“The showcase gave us the chance to recruit him really hard in our own building. We got to show him first-hand what we have to offer,” Lumberjacks head coach and general manager Kevin Patrick said. “You’ve got to be able to get players to your building so you can show them what you have to offer. His team coming and him being able to see first-hand what we’re doing in Muskegon helped him decide that it’s where he wanted to be.”

“It was a very impressive event,” Lomberg said. “It gave me a chance to see Muskegon in person, and it’s such a beautiful town. The arena is awesome. The facilities are great. The coaching staff and ownership were nice and welcoming to me. I knew I wanted to be a Lumberjack right there and then.”

Lomberg wasted no time making his presence known for Musky, leading the team with four points on a goal and three assists during the exhibition schedule. Perhaps most noticeably, Lomberg showed zero hesitation when teammate and fellow USHL rookie Nick Seeler was checked from behind in the waning minutes of a hard-fought game against Youngstown. Lomberg immediately came to Seeler’s aid.

“Chemistry is everything,” Lomberg said. “It’s not just about being close off the ice, either. It’s especially on the ice. If someone gets hit, you feel it. You immediately want to stick up for them. When they’re upset, you’re upset. Chemistry is one of the most important pieces for a championship team.”

Lomberg, who wore the 'C' for Hill Academy, as well as during his development with the Mississauga Reps youth hockey program, knows a thing or two about the power of chemistry. He was immediately impressed with the leadership of such returners as defenseman Carter Foguth.

“We all love Fogey, and he can command a room,” Lomberg said. “He knows when to say the right thing, and he always says it. I could see it immediately in just the first exhibition game.”

The Jacks are certainly deep and skilled and boast a wealth of leadership with 10 players who saw significant ice time during the 2010-11 campaign returning for the upcoming season.

“The guys are tough on each other, and having half of the team returning is great,” Lomberg said. “They do a nice job of physically helping us out, but they’re also telling us what to do and what to watch out for – on and off the ice.”

Lomberg has committed to play hockey at one of the most storied programs in all collegiate sports – the University of Maine.

He admits he’s still acclimating to Muskegon and the tempo and physicality of the premier juniors league in the nation. But the challenge only makes him work harder.

“Plain and simply, Muskegon was the best place for me to develop and hopefully I can reach the dream someday of playing in the NHL,” Lomberg said. “If you’re willing to work for it, they give you everything a player could need to be a premier player and stand out as a true freshman on the collegiate level and beyond.”

No comments: