Club Sports

Long Beach Bombers Hockey Wins Western Division Championship Again

The Long Beach Bombers club hockey team won their third consecutive Western Division Championship over the weekend and are going to El Paso, Texas for the Thorne Cup Finals.

The Bombers are a 20 and under junior team that competes in the Western States Hockey League (WSHL) and have been a pipeline to the NCAA and professional ranks over the last few years under head coach Chris White.

Long Beach hosted the Fresno Monsters in a three-game series at The Rinks in Lakewood, but ended it quickly with a pair of wins. On Thursday, the Bombers blanked the Monsters 4-0, and then skated away from the visitors with an 8-2 win on Friday.

Team captain Amir Burguev broke the Bombers franchise record for career assists (156) in the second game. He is one point away from becoming the first-ever Bombers defenseman to eclipse the 200-point mark in his career.

Below is an official press release from the Long Beach Bombers…

WESTERN DIVISION FINAL

#3 Fresno Monsters (33-17-1) at
#1 Long Beach Bombers (36-11-4)
GAME 1: Thursday, March 29 – Long Beach 4, Fresno 0
GAME 2: Friday, March 30 – Long Beach 8, Fresno 2

Long Beach quiets Fresno to win third straight Western Division title

After looking vulnerable at times during the second half of the season, the Long Beach Bombers have been unstoppable during their surge through the Western Division playoffs. The Bombers outscored Fresno 12-2 over the course of a two-game sweep, in last weekend’s Western Division Final, to advance to the Thorne Cup Finals, for the second straight season.

Long Beach set the tone for the series when forward Ryan Gil (Huntington Beach, CA) scored just 44 seconds into the contest. Monsters goaltender Max Karlenzig recovered with 13 saves in the opening frame, but the Bombers were able to add a pair of goals in the second period from William Daigneault (Gibsons, BC) and Artem Korolev (Moscow, RUS), putting them in the driver’s seat with a 3-0 advantage, heading into the final period.

Gil added his second of the game, about five minutes into the third period, and the Bombers cruised to a 4-0 victory in Game One.

Fresno threatened throughout the game, but Long Beach netminder Spencer Kozlowski (Vancouver, BC) stopped everything he saw. Kozlowski held Fresno’s star forwards, Cody Key and Daylon Mannon, off the scoresheet en route to his first shutout of the postseason. When it was all said and done, Kozlowski posted 35 saves.

Karlenzig stopped 25 of 29 Long Beach attempts while Bombers blueliner, and Captain, Amir Burguev (Kazan, RUS), dished out three assists. Fresno led all Western Division teams in scoring, during the regular season (298 Goals For). It was the first time in 57 games that the Monsters failed to score a goal.

The second game started off in a similar manner, with Long Beach getting on the board just over a minute into the contest, this time via a goal from Korolev. Fresno was able to respond this time, though, as Key tied things up exactly 16 minutes into the opening frame.

It was all Long Beach from there, as the Bombers came out of the locker room in the second period with a pair of goals – one from Gil, and another from Czech sensation Miroslav Rohlik (Chrudim, CZE) that gave the home team a 4-1 edge.

Fresno made things interesting with a tally from Mannon early in the third period to cut the deficit to two, but four straight goals from the Bombers killed any hope of a Monsters rally.

Gil finished the night with a pair of goals and four assists, giving him a 4-5-9 line in the series and a team-leading 7-8-15 this postseason. Five different Bombers collected multiple points in the contest, including a pair of goals and an assist from Korolev and three helpers from Joel Larsson (Landskrona, SWE).

Kozlowski stopped 29 of 31 Fresno shots while his counterpart, this time Kyle Franceschini, made 34 saves in the losing effort.

Now, the Bombers will head to the Thorne Cup Finals, in El Paso, TX. Six teams (4 Division Champions, 2 Wild Cards) will play a three-game round robin, followed by a semi-final, and Championship game. The tournament will being on Wednesday, April 11, and conclude on Sunday, April 15. All games can be view live, or archived, at bdehockey.com

You can follow along at jrbombers.org, on one of the Bombers social media accounts (Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter), or their free mobile app.

JJ Fiddler
JJ Fiddler
JJ Fiddler is an award-winning sportswriter and videographer who has been covering Southern California sports for multiple newspapers and websites since 2004. After attending Long Beach State and creating the first full sports page at the Union Weekly Newspaper, he has been exclusively covering Long Beach prep sports since 2007.
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