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Fresno and Long Beach meet this weekend in the Battle for the West

FRESNO MONSTERS (6-4-0, 18 pts) @WSHLMonsters

The Fresno Monsters played a single game last week, travelling to Valencia on Friday.  Martin Dlugolinsky and Stanislav Danaev each scored twice in the game for the Monsters, and Cole Beckman’s goal in the final minute of the third period secured a 5-3 win over the Flyers.

It also marked the Monsters debut of their new goaltender, WSHL veteran Tyler Mathews.  Mathews, who made 28 saves to pick up the win, has had previous stints in the WSHL with Salt Lake City and Idaho.  The 19-year-old began the season with the Maryland Black Bears of the NAHL and provides Fresno head coach Kevin Kaminski with another option between the pipes. 

Max Karlenzig has been a workhorse, playing the first nine games and getting solid results (5-4-0/3.29/.907), but having two established veterans can be a huge plus over a 52-game season in a very competitive division like the Western.

Case in point – the Monsters play three-in-three at division leader Long Beach starting Thursday, so it will be interesting to see how Kaminski splits up the starts for his goaltending tandem.

LONG BEACH BOMBERS (9-2-0, 26 pts) @LBBombersHockey

With his first of four assists in Friday’s 5-1 win over the El Paso Rhinos, Tomas Urbanec became the all-time points leader for the 25-year-old Bombers franchise, surpassing Johnny Linehan’s 234 set during a six-year junior career (2007-2013).

Just 38 seconds after the opening faceoff, Erik Sillerstrom skated the puck out of the Long Beach end and through the neutral zone to create a three-on-two for the Bombers.  As he crossed the blue line, he passed the puck to Urbanec who was along the right-wing boards, and Sillerstrom went hard to the net.  Urbanec’s return shot/pass was re-directed by Sillerstrom, giving the Bombers an early lead.

Urbanec picked up four assists in the game and scored one himself – finishing off a tick-tack-toe passing play for a power play goal with 2:24 remaining that closed out the scoring and put an exclamation point on a huge victory for the Bombers.

“Tomas is a very talented player that works extremely hard improve his game,” said Long Beach head coach Chris White.  “I think the biggest thing we’re trying to focus on with him is consistency; both his game, and mentally.”

White said Urbanec started gripping his stick a little tight when he got to 234 points, and was looking for the perfect play.  He went without a point in back-to-back games – a rarity for him.  The record-breaking point came on a good breakout, simple zone entry, and he just threw a puck at the net, resulting in an assist and the record.

“I could see the pressure release, for him,” White said.  “I’m very proud of him and, as always, I have high expectations for him this season, and in the future.”

Click here to read the official team press release, including quotes from teammates past and present:  Patrick Johnasson, Domenic Bosetti and Nick Short:

Amazingly Urbanec has, not just the remaining 41 games in this year’s schedule, but another year of junior eligibility remaining to add on to his career point total should he elect to return to Long Beach for a sixth season with the Bombers as Linehan did.

Urbanec has also moved into the Top 10 on the WSHL’s all-time scoring list.  Jakob Kranabetter is the league’s all-time scoring leader with 351 points (113-238-351) amassed over 196 games with the Valencia Flyers and El Paso Rhinos.  Kranabetter joined the varsity hockey team at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia this fall after helping the Rhinos to the Thorne Cup last season.

A former Bomber, Tomas Nemeth, is second on the all-time list with 325 points (115-210-325).  205 of those were accrued with Long Beach (2013-2015) and he posted a third 100-point season with the Oklahoma City Blazers in 2015-16.  Nemeth is currently playing professional hockey in France.


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