Day two of Heat camp is in the books with the team fielding a much bigger squad than Monday’s open session. While a few players were still en route to Stockton, most notably projected starting goaltender Jon Gillies, a number of players made it to NorCal for the day’s training, which led to a far more interesting session of players all looking to be getting noticed by the Heat coaching staff and Heat General Manager Brad Pascall and Flames Director of Player Development Ray Edwards.
For some of these players, it’s their first go around at a pro camp. Watching former junior stars like Andrew Mangiapane and Rasmus Andersson adjust to the speed and intensity that has stepped up a notch was entertaining during the pair’s first time sporting the Heat roundel on their chests. Andersson appeared calm and cool while knowing the proper time to jump into a play while his junior teammate Mangiapane dazzled with his speed, skill, and tenacity.
During the day’s final “drill” a small area game where the nets were moved just outside of each blueline and the team played a “two-on-two” style game, watching the pair of Mangiapane and returning Heat forward Emile Poirier should make Heat fans salivate as to what could come this season.
Come mid to late September and early October, it’s up to these players to get noticed for the right reasons. It could be exactly what got Mangiapane and Poirier noticed today, chemistry combined with skill for a few tremendous goals. But it could also be someone getting noticed for his energy, work ethic and physicality.
That’s what has gotten Ryan Lomberg noticed by the Flames two years in a row.
“I have to be noticed and I need to play a desperate game,” Lomberg said. “I can’t be too complacent about how things are going, I really have to get after it, grab the opportunity and make the most of it.”
The returning Heat forward suited up in 15 games with the Heat last season and certainly turned heads when he did. Whether it be his speed, not backing down from the rough stuff, or through his mouth (he’s a bit of a talker on the ice), Lomberg was getting noticed for the right reasons, but had a lengthy depth chart in front of him. That’s when he was sent to Adirondack to play for the Thunder in the ECHL, a move that can either be damning to a young player’s confidence, or, as Lomberg took it, an opportunity.
“I went down and I thought I carried a good mentality with me that I’m here for a reason and it’s to get better and I tried doing that every day when I was down there and got better and better each day,” Lomberg said. “I took everything I learned from a lot of the guys and coaching staff in Adirondack and applied it to my workout program this summer and I’m excited to see the results this season.”
A complacent player, or in any matter, a complacent person is never going to blossom, in anything they do, just as a poor attitude can impact even the most talented people to perform with such consistency that hockey players are held to. Learning at the ECHL level and applying that over the summer to his own routine, coupled with the right attitude and more experience helped Lomberg achieve even more notoriety from the Calgary staff and fans.
Whether it be because of a big fight, goal, his energy (or let’s be honest…his mouth again), this time around, Lomberg turned so many heads that if you didn’t notice him, you have no business watching hockey. Calgary fans even took to Facebook when the inevitable assigning of Lomberg to Stockton took place on Sunday to complain about why he wasn’t given a bigger look.
Just a testament to his game.
But Lomberg never saw Stockton as a bad thing. Sure he wants nothing more than to put on an NHL sweater, but it’s continuing his growth as a player and person that fuels him, similar in fact to a guy like Heat forward Garnet Hathaway who’s still battling for a regular spot with the big club.
“I get asked this a lot,” Lomberg said of his parallels to Flames forward Hathaway, “Every day I was here he was one of the hardest workers, if not the hardest worker. He’s still in Calgary trying to get a steady spot there. It’s good to see his hard work pay off and he’s a player that I’d like to follow in his footsteps, and a player I see myself like.”
It’s easy to compare the two as Hathaway had to work his way from being an AHL contracted player to earning that NHL deal and eventually making an impact with the Calgary Flames. For Lomberg, he’d be just ok with a path like that, but knows that it’s about getting noticed this year as a member of the Heat.
Chock that up to a more experienced player.
“I think a year ago I was waiting on other guys to see how it’s done and follow the older guys a little bit,” Lomberg said. “This year I want to be here the whole year and I want an NHL contract so I know I have to stand out from day one, and now that I have a little more experience, I’m better prepared and I know a little more about what to expect.”
Heat fans know what to expect too. What they may not know is that Lomberg didn’t just train over the summer to maintain his speed, one of his biggest assets, or his skillset on the ice. He also trained for some of the eventual fights his play, or his words, will get him into.
“I’m confident in my abilities on the ice skill-wise, but I worked on everything this summer,” Lomberg explains. “I know eventually I want a role on an NHL team and my game is going to be more of a penalty killing, gritty, in-your-face style, which I love to play, so I’m excited – and hey, I even practiced fighting over the summer, so I’m definitely ready for the physical side of things this season.”
It got a little physical on day two as the team was competing during that two-on-two small area game; Lomberg’s red team in the lead over the white team. Coach Ryan Huska whistled a late penalty call on defenseman Keegan Kanzig who hooked up Mike Angelidis on a partial breakaway and awarded the longtime pro a penalty shot to tie the game. Kanzig and team red’s pleas for a dive fell on deaf ears from the Heat bench boss and Angelidis converted to tie things up and get both groups going.
“He’s an older guy who’s been around,” Lomberg said with a smile when asked on if the penalty shot was deserved. “I think nine out of ten times he deserves that call.”
When the hooting and hollering stopped, and goaltenders Mason McDonald and Ryan Faragher trading stop after stop, it’d be Ryan Culkin’s wristshot over the right leg pad of Faragher which led to the red team victory, a few laps around the ice by the white team, and some friendly chirping, no doubt, from number 32.
“You can already tell it’s going to be a good group of guys and everyone is excited to be here so I’m looking forward to the year!”