For a decade, Stockton was an ECHL town. That meant that fans never saw players get “called-up” to the roster, rather they only saw players sign with the team.
The only call-ups Stockton hockey fans became familiar with were the ones that sent their best players to the AHL team, as those players got one step closer to their ultimate goal of being a regular on an NHL team.
With the move to the AHL, though, Stockton is now on the other end of the table, calling guys up from the ECHL affiliate in Adirondack to help fill roster spots here with the Heat.
One such player is Ryan Lomberg who, after an impressive training camp with both the Calgary Flames and Stockton Heat, was assigned to the Adirondack Thunder just before the season began.
His time in Adirondack wouldn’t be long, as he became the first skater to be called up to the Heat after just five games played in the ECHL.
Lomberg said of his time with the Thunder that it was a great experience and, despite the initial disappointment of being sent down, it was a fun place to be while he was there.
“The guys were great and everyone was really welcoming down there,” Lomberg said. The coaching staff is full of knowledge and it was a great situation for me. The boys were rolling and it’s always fun winning. We went 5-0 when I was down there, so it was definitely fun.”
The overall team record for Adirondack (now 7-0-0) was undoubtedly helped along by Lomberg’s presence in the lineup through the first five games.
The 20-year-old rookie scored four times for the Thunder, including a two-goal effort in his final contest with the team, and racked up 21 shots on goal in the five games he was there, which at the time of his call-up, led the team.
However, the stats don’t necessarily tell the whole story with Lomberg.
“My game isn’t necessarily to get a goal a game or an assist every game, but it’s definitely good for the confidence to get pucks bouncing your way a bit,” Lomberg explained. “It was a good way for me to get my feet underneath me and it’s definitely a good feeling.”
At 5’10”, 190-lbs., Lomberg lives in the same vein as NHL players like Brad Marchand (Boston Bruins) and Andrew Shaw (Chicago Blackhawks) whose purposes on the ice aren’t to necessarily rack up numbers, but to overwhelm opponents with speed and frustrate opponents with an edge to their game.
Speed and grit are two things Lomberg possesses in spades and are two reasons that the Heat signed him to his first pro contract this past summer.
His style of play meshes well with the Calgary Flames style, which trickles down throughout the organization all the way to Adirondack.
“Practices and any on ice stuff is treated the same as it is here in Stockton,” Lomberg described. “Anywhere you go in this organization there’s a high intensity level.”
The man running those practices is Cail MacLean, a veteran of nearly 750 pro games between the IHL, ECHL and AHL, and a sixth-year veteran coach in the ECHL and AHL. In addition, Cail had served as an assistant with the organization when the AHL club was in Abbotsford.
Lomberg described MacLean’s coaching style as a very knowledgeable one and that his message is the same that is echoed throughout the entire organization.
“He knows his stuff and he’s a great coach,” Lomberg exclaimed. “He goes about sending the message the right way. It was a lot of fun to play for him, but I’m definitely happy to be back.”
Lomberg got his first taste of live AHL action last week on Halloween against the San Diego Gulls. He registered no points, but did get a shot on net.