The month of January has been an up and down month for the Heat but one player has remained consistent throughout the month, with 7 points in 7 games, and that player is Ryan Lomberg.
Three multi-point efforts, a bobblehead night in Stockton and his first ever recall to the Calgary Flames have made it quite the month for the Heat’s pugilist.
“I do think I’m playing with a bit more confidence now and I guess, some call it puck luck, but I am getting the bounces now,” Lomberg explained about his recent play. “I’ve tried staying as consistent as possible throughout the whole year and trying to work as hard as I can every game.”
“Sometimes you get the bounces and sometimes you don’t.”
In his first 30 games this season, Lomberg recorded just 3 goals and 7 points, a bit of step back in terms of production from the pace a season ago, where Lomberg notched 13 goals and 29 points while becoming the first every Heat player to suit up in every game during the course of the season.
And over parts of the last two years with the Heat, he’s been trusted to do everything and play everywhere.
“At the beginning of the year, we were using him in the middle of the ice, which is not his natural position, but he was doing anything to help our team win,” Heat Head Coach Ryan Huska said. “I think he’s more comfortable when he’s at now on the wing, and lately had been playing with Andrew Mangiapane when he’s here, and Brett Findlay and Spencer Foo, so guys we consider some of our best offensive players.”
“He’s had that ‘Garnet Hathaway’ effect on his line, bringing the sandpaper which creates loose pucks, and with his speed and his puck handling ability, he’s been able to chip in offensively.”
Being compared to a fellow undrafted, and really undervalued player like Hathaway should certainly be a compliment one of the newest contracted prospects of the Calgary Flames. Hathaway now is an everyday player for the Flames and is enjoying some terrific success with the big club while doing the same things there that he brought day in and day out in Stockton.
But perhaps the higher praise from his coach is his team first mentality, willing to sacrifice offensive stats to be whatever the team needs him to be.
“I’ve always prided myself on being that guy that can go to coach and say that I’m ready for whatever, center on the fourth line or wing on the first line, I’ll come to work and do my job and be as productive as I can be,” Lomberg continues. “Obviously, playing 20-minutes a game on the first line is where everyone dreams of playing, but everyone has their role, and it’s my job to do what’s asked of me, whatever that may be.”
“I’m a team guy, so wherever the coaches need me, that’s where I’ll be.”
And it’s that attitude that has captured not only the hearts of fans, but the attention of Brad Treliving and his staff. Plucked out of the USHL, Lomberg faced an uphill battle in his first season for playing time, spending most of his year in the ECHL.
However, that time increased ten-fold last season, and the gritty forward earned himself an NHL contract with his attitude off the ice, and his play on it.
It all culminated in his first taste of life in the NHL with the team on the road in Carolina.
“For them to believe in me, trust me, and allow me to prove myself as I did, it felt really good,” Lomberg said of his call-up to Calgary. “Every second I was there I was watching guys like Gio and Johnny and seeing what they do at the rink to prepare. Just having a taste of it, it drives me to get myself back up there.”
“Having said that, I was up for 24 hours, so it was unbelievable experience but I’m nowhere near close to satisfied.”
With a glimpse into the life of hockey stardom, and reaffirming Lomberg that he’s on the right path to play in the top league in the world, the popular Stockton forward is looking inward into what he needs to do to follow in the footsteps of a Hathaway, and become an everyday, NHL player.
“I gotta stay with it; have to bring the energy every shift, work as hard as I can and stay consistent,” Lomberg explains. “I think I’ve been doing a lot of good things this season, but no one is perfect, and I have a lot to work on. Husk keeps telling me that it’s my play away from the puck, positioning and little things like that, that when I do get my chance I have to be 100% ready.”
Quite the month for last year’s selection in Stockton as the Fan Favorite, averaging a point-per-game, earning his first hint of NHL hockey, and being forever immortalized in bobblehead form.
And the support here in Stockton couldn’t have been better. Looking at the data, the post announcing Lomberg’s call to Calgary may be the most popular player related post in the history of the Heat’s Facebook page. Nearly 10,000 fans were reached with over 1,200 fans clicking on the link to read the story.
“It was unbelievable to see the number of people rooting for me,” Lomberg said with a smile. “It just makes me want to push that much harder to get back.”