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Bomersback making some noise for Steelheads

Tuesday, 11.13.2007 / 9:37 AM / Prospects

By Brian Compton - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

Mark Bomersback arrived in the ECHL after a four-year run at Ferris State University. His best season at the collegiate level came in his junior year (2005-06), when he went 16-16-32 in 40 games.
Idaho Steelheads coach Derek Laxdal knew his team was going to have a different look in 2007-08, but what he probably didn’t know was just how talented some of his rookies really are.

First-year pro Mark Bomersback falls into that category. After enjoying a solid training camp with the American Hockey League’s Iowa Stars, the 25-year-old signed a deal with the defending Kelly Cup champions.

So far, the move has paid off for both parties. In his first 10 professional games, Bomersback – originally known more for his ability to set up his linemates – has scored eight times. His 11 points has helped the Steelheads get off to a respectable 3-2-5 start in a powerful National Conference.

“It feels really good,” Bomersback said of his quick start. “Usually, I’m more of an assist guy instead of a goal guy. Everything that I’ve been shooting on net has been going in. Hopefully, that just keeps up.”

Bomersback arrived in the ECHL after a four-year run at Ferris State University. His best season at the collegiate level came in his junior year (2005-06), when he went 16-16-32 in 40 games. Judging by what he’s accomplished for the Steelheads in a short amount of time, it’s safe to say the adjustment to pro life hasn’t been too difficult for the Rochester, Alberta native.

“The guys are definitely stronger and harder to get off the puck,” Bomersback said. “The speed of the game is about the same. I haven’t found it that much different.

One reason for that is the fact that he’s playing with a former college teammate. Idaho’s leading scorer, center Greg Rallo, played at Ferris State from 2002-06. The duo has been able to pick up where it left off, playing alongside Colin Sinclair, who has seven points in 10 games to start his rookie campaign.

“He’s off to a pretty good start,” Laxdal said. “He’s got a good line with Colin Sinclair and Greg Rallo. Mark and Greg played together at Ferris State. He’s making the adjustment. He’s had some peaks and valleys in his games, but he’s had some success scoring early. He’s a pretty complete player.”

His play at Ferris State certainly opened some eyes in the Dallas Stars organization, which invited him to its AHL camp. While Bomersback didn’t make the Triple-A club, he’s hopeful to either land there or another AHL city in the near future.

“I really enjoyed my time there,” Bomersback said of Iowa’s training camp. “They basically said that I was good enough to play in the American Hockey League, but there just isn’t any room at the moment. That was nice to hear. Hopefully I’ll get a chance sometime this year, whether it’s with them or another team.”

Laxdal is convinced Bomersback will get an opportunity to play in the AHL this season. The Idaho coach loves the forward’s versatility, as well as his attitude and his willingness to take constructive criticism.

“He’s a utility-type forward,” Laxdal said. “He can play center, he can play the right side. He’s a real complete player for us in that aspect. He’s had some great help, too, on that first power-play unit. He’s got a great attitude and he’s a great kid. He works extremely hard in practice. He’s really open to listening and learning. He’s definitely a player that I think will get some looks this year in the American Hockey League. While he’s down here, he’s got to continue to be successful.”

Idaho head coach Derek Laxdal is convinced Bomersback will get an opportunity to play in the AHL this season. He loves the forward’s versatility, as well as his attitude and his willingness to take constructive criticism.

The feelings Laxdal has for Bomersback appear to be mutual. One of the reasons Bomersback is so willing to listen to his coach is because of Laxdal’s background. While Laxdal spent the majority of his playing career in the minor leagues, his hard work earned him cups of coffee with the Toronto Maple Leafs and the New York Islanders.

“He’s been awesome,” Bomersback said of Laxdal. “He’s a really good coach and a really good guy. You try to learn a lot from him. You just kind of listen. He’s very understanding and an easy person to talk to. It’s been really good.”

Laxdal certainly will do everything in his power to see that Bomersback gets a chance to play in the AHL this season. In the meantime, though, the rookie knows he has some work to do if he hopes to stick at the Triple-A level once that promotion does arrive.

“I need to be stronger on the puck and win more 1-on-1 battles,” he said. “I’ve been trying to work on my defensive game a little more. That’s one thing they told me in Iowa – to be good defensively, and then you become good offensively. I always keep that in the back of my head.”

As long as he’s in Idaho, there’s no question Laxdal will continue to take advantage of Bomersback’s skills. He’ll continue to skate on the top line with Rallo and Sinclair, and he’ll continue to receive plenty of time on the power play. As long as Bomersback continues to use his speed and hands to overcome his size (5-foot-10, 190 pounds), he’ll continue to pay dividends for an Idaho squad that is aiming to keep pace in the West Division.

“He’s not that big in stature, but he competes,” Laxdal said. “He’s got a great skill set. He’s exactly what we expected of him when we signed him.”

 

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