He may be the most hated player in the Pacific Division, but he’s well liked in Stockton!
Heat forward Ryan Lomberg has certainly made “friends” with the Pacific Division foes this season, continually getting under the skin of near everyone, fans, coaches and certainly players. However his mouth isn’t the only thing that cashes checks as Lomberg combines his gift of gab with a tough fearlessness that has seen him go with anyone, regardless of the size difference.
In fact, Lomberg’s seven fighting majors this season cover the gambit. From 5-foot-8-inch Conor Garland of the Tucson Roadrunners during the Stockton-Tucson line brawl on December 28 to Garland’s teammate in 6-foot-6-inch Jarred Tinordi, Lomberg has never shied away from any opponent.
Now its a new opponent on the horizon for Lomberg, one that doesn’t fight back with fists, but rather with suspensions.
You see last summer, the AHL Board of Governors voted to change Rule #46, “Fighting” to incorporate a limit to fights in one season to 10 before a player will face an automatic one game suspension. A player will be suspended for one game during every subsequent fight until they’ve accumulated their 14th fight of the season. Once a player has 14 fighting majors to his name, he’ll accrue a two game suspension for the 14th fight and every other fight for the rest of the season.
According to Lomberg, he understands why the rule was put in place, but it’s not going to change his mentality towards it.
“The rule what it’s supposed to do by keeping some of the big guys who like to fight a lot from fighting every night,” Lomberg explains. “Obviously with only three left, I can’t go out of my way, and I have to pick the right time and be smart about it, but I won’t deviate from the way I play just because I’m nearing the 10 fight limit.”
“I don’t want to get suspended obviously but if my teammates need me and an opportunity presents itself, I won’t shy away from it.”
Lomberg has done just that all season long. You’ve never once seen Lomberg drop off a faceoff or square off with a likeminded opponent at center ice for no apparent reason. Take his fight against Tinordi back on October 30, a retaliatory fight after Rasmus Andersson took a big but legal hit from the big Tucson defender.
Lomberg beelined it for Tinordi.
The question now becomes when does the limit enter Lomberg’s mind. Does it change his thought process as to whether or not to go with potential combatants?
“I think I maintain the same mentality I’ve had all year, not expecting to fight every night” he said. “In a way I try to let it come to me, maybe poke around a little bit and get guys to come after me, but I won’t stop playing chippy and toe the line just because I’m getting close to the limit. If I have 10 fights, and one of my teammates gets hit from behind, I’ll fight. It’s something I don’t want to hit, but if I hit it, I’ll be alright.”
“I want to help the team win every night, whether it be scoring, fighting or doing what I have to do to help my team win.”
A statement that assures his squad what kind of a teammate he is, as if they didn’t know already. Lomberg knows he’s worth more to the Heat on the ice than in the press box, but he’s also smart enough to know that his approach to the game must stay the same, even if it ends up costing him a game down the line.
Just three fights away from that happening to the eighth most penalized player in the league.
“It was a good marker,” Lomberg said of the 10 fight limit. “Something to shoot for,” he continued with a wry smile.
Just the kind of thought that makes him so popular in Stockton, and so disliked among opponents.