Western States Hockey League

Western States Hockey League: Long Beach Bombers hitting the target early on

Western States Hockey League: Long Beach Bombers hitting the target early on

By Brian Lester 

After seven games, the Long Beach Bombers proved they have the potential to be one of the better teams in the Western States Hockey League this season.Western States Hockey League,USA Junior Hockey,WSHL

They played the Fresno Monsters tough in three-game series in early October, winning once, and went into the final weekend of the month with a four-game win streak and a 5-2 record.

“We are in a good spot, but it’s still early in the season,” said Long Beach head coach Chris White. “We have a good mix of veterans and young players, and we have played well, but we still have a lot of things we need to work on.”

The Bombers have several players who have risen to the occasion, including Patrik Johansson and Tomas Nemeth, each of whom scored seven goals and dished out eight assists in seven games.

John Beatty (three goals, six assists), Michael Sjolin (one goal, seven assists) and Carl Lyden (five goals, two assists) have also played key roles for the Bombers.

In goal, Dennis Tschudi went into the season as the No. 1 goalie and played well, allowing 14 goals and making 186 saves.

Bailey Ketola and Kent Nusbaum arrived right before the start of the season and have seen time between the pipes as well. Ketola played in three games and racked up 88 saves.

“Bailey has played great,” White said. “Dennis has done a great job, too. I think in time he will be one of the top goalies in the league.”

Injuries have prevented the Bombers from being at full strength. One of the other issues Long Beach has dealt with is on-ice discipline.

“We’ve had some frustration issues. Players have to realize you just have to play hard and not open your mouth,” White said. “We will continue to work at that and just go out and work hard and play hard every day.”

 

Read past Western States Hockey League articles in our archives: 

Ogden Mustangs deep in experience for 2013-14

Expectations high for Colorado Evolution in first year

Butte Cobras excited about building community relationships

Western States Hockey League: Ogden Mustangs deep in experience for 2013-14

Western States Hockey League: Ogden Mustangs deep in experience for 2013-14

By Brian Lester

The Ogden Mustangs nearly made it all the way to the finals of the Thorne Cup last season.

Duplicating that success won’t be easy in the always-rugged Western States Hockey League, but head coach Jake Laime is confident his team is up for the challenge.Ogden Mustangs,Western States Hockey League,WSHL,Jake Laime,USA Junior Hockey

“Our identity will be the same as last year,” Laime said. “We are going to have a fast and highly-skilled team, but we can also play the rough and tumble style of hockey, too.”

Seven players are back and that experience will be invaluable as the Mustangs prepare for another run at the league championship.

“Those guys will help set the tone for us,” Laime said. “They helped us create a culture of winning last year and that will carry over to this year. We fell a little short of our goal, but the guys are ready to get out there and play hard. They are hungry for more success.”

The Mustangs won’t play any games in the preseason as they did a year ago, but Laime plans to use the time in camp to put this team in a position to be at its best come the start of the season.

“We have a lot of talent, including some very good players from overseas,” Laime said. “Our guys have high expectations and we want to be disciplined and compete hard, in practice and in games. We feel really good about our defense and that should be one of our biggest strengths.”

Laime believes his team has the potential to be a contender again this year. It’s just a matter of going out and proving it.

“Our depth is good and I’m very excited about this team,” Laime said. “On paper, I think we can be even better than we were last season. But it comes down to being able to mesh as a team and compete hard. If we do that, we’re going to be in good shape.”

 

Read past Western States Hockey League article in our archives: 

Expectations high for Colorado Evolution in first year

Butte Cobras excited about building community relationships

 El Paso Rhinos look back on double championship year

Cheyenne Stampede: Team coming together well as tryout camp, season approaches

Cheyenne Stampede: Team coming together well as tryout camp, season approaches

By Brian Lester

Eric Ballard said there are still voids to fill on the Cheyenne Stampede roster for the 2014-15 season, but the first-year head coach is confident he will find the right players to take those spots.

It’s just a matter of being patient.

“We have about 11 spots remaining, but right now it’s about waiting over the next 30-60 days to see what happens with the players trying out for [teams in] the USHL and NAHL,” said Ballard. “We are keeping conversations going with players we are interested in, and in the end, hopefully we’ll end up with at least two or three of those guys.”

The main tryout camp is Aug. 15-17 at the Cheyenne Ice and Event Center, and Ballard is looking forward to seeing how things play out at the camp. Ultimately, he wants the best players possible on his roster as he prepares for his first season as the head coach of the Stampede.

“We want to be able to bring the best guys in and fill those open spots with quality players,” Ballard said. “We’re doing a lot of work preparing for the camp and we’re looking forward to putting together a good hockey team.”

Ballard has been aggressive in his recruiting efforts since taking the job as the head coach and hasn’t had too much down time during the off-season.

“There isn’t really ever an off-season in hockey,” Ballard said. “I’ve probably spent more time on the road this year recruiting than I ever have in the past. I’ve been all over the country looking at players and I feel good about what we’ve been able to accomplish with our efforts.”

Ballard has high expectations for his team this season in the rugged and competitive Western States Hockey League and is eager to get things started.

“I can’t wait for camp to start. I am very excited about the season ahead,” Ballard said. “The goal is to get all 25 guys on the same page and on board with what we are trying to do as a team. I’m confident they will adjust and adapt to everything and we’ll be ready to play our best.”

While the Stampede are looking forward to the season ahead, one of its former players is headed to the next level.
Goalie Fredrik Radbjer has committed to Marian University, a NCAA Division 3 school in Wisconsin. Radbjer went 1-4-1 a year ago with a 3.22 goals against average before suffering an injury during the season.

 

Read past Cheyenne Stampede articles in our archives:

Ballard excited about new coaching opportunity

Eight nominated for Western States Hockey League all-star teams

Moving on up the standings after a big January

Western States Hockey League: Expectations high for Colorado Evolution in first year

Western States Hockey League: Expectations high for Colorado Evolution in first year

By Brian Lester

Although the Colorado Evolution will be new to the Western States Hockey League this season, it has no intentions of being an average team.

John Kopperud, the head coach and general manager of the Evolution, said he and his staff have hit the ground running in preparation for the team’s inaugural run in the league.Colorado Evolution,Western States Hockey League,WSHL,USA Junior Hockey

The Evolution hosted a camp the last weekend in June and have also hit the recruiting trail hard. Colorado’s main tryout camp is scheduled for August.

“We’ve gone to several showcases and have gotten a lot of interest from players,” Kopperud said. “We’ve also made connections with overseas players and we feel good about the progress we have made.”

Kopperud said he is hoping to find players who want to play at the highest level in the long run.

“We really want guys who want to move up to higher levels of junior hockey and who want to be Division 1 hockey players,” Kopperud said. “We want success in the win-loss column, too, but the most important thing is to move guys up to the next level.”

Expectations will be high for the Evolution even though the league is one of the best in the country. Competition is fierce but Kopperud is confident Colorado can establish itself as one of the better teams in the WSHL.

“We want to be a playoff team, but we are hoping to do even better than that,” Kopperud said. “We’d really like to be the last team standing. I know that will be extremely tough to do in this league because it’s so good, but we want to have high goals. Even if we don’t accomplish that goal, if we can move a lot of our players on, the season will be a success.”

 

Read past Western States Hockey League articles in our archives:

Butte Cobras excited about building community relationships

 El Paso Rhinos look back on double championship year

Loyalty speaks volumes for Salt Lake City Moose

Western States Hockey League: Butte Cobras excited about building community relationships

Western States Hockey League: Butte Cobras excited about building community relationships

By Cody Warner

The Butte Cobras will become the 29th team to join the ranks of the Western States Hockey League at the beginning of the 2014-2015 season.

Team owner Michael Burks decided to bring a team to the Butte, Mont., community after his enjoyable experience getting to know the people through the Butte location of Fuel Fitness and Nutrition.Western States Hockey League,WSHL,Butte Cobras,Michael Burks,USA Junior Hockey

Burks currently owns the Missoula Maulers, another WSHL team in Montana. He says his experience over eight years with the Maulers has helped him quite a bit.

“I have learned a ton of things to do and not to do throughout that time, and I will be using that knowledge to try to eliminate those problems that I have encountered in the past,” Burks said.

He hopes to emulate the success and planning that has helped him in his tenure with Missoula. One thing he is especially excited to bring to Butte is the community aspect of the Cobras.

“The team will give as much as the community will allow us, with non-profit support as well as local school presentations,” Burks said.

The team being located in Butte is no matter of convenience or coincidence, either.

“I have always wanted to own a team in Butte,” Burks said. “Through Fuel Fitness and Nutrition, I have seen the incredible community support. I have also witnessed the incredible support for their local sports teams. I have no doubt that the Cobras will be welcomed with open arms.”

Adding to the community aspect of the organization, the team will play out of the Butte Community Ice Center.

Burks has brought in Jon Jonasson to be the head coach and general manager of the Cobras, and Greg Sousa as the director of recruiting.

Jonasson brings over 10 years of coaching experience to the organization including measured success at the junior level with the Steele County Blades (Minnesota Junior Hockey League). Sousa comes with Jonasson from the Blades and hopes to continue the success they have accomplished together.

 

Read past Western States Hockey League articles in our archives:

El Paso Rhinos look back on double championship year

El Paso Rhinos win Thorne Cup championship

Loyalty speaks volumes for Salt Lake City Moose