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Lake Tahoe Blue faces Long Beach

Brent Maranto
Western States Hockey League
Gear flies as the Lake Tahoe Blue and San Diego Gulls turn chippy in the first period of a home game Saturday. The Blue will host the Long Beach Bombers Friday (7 p.m.), Saturday (7 p.m.) and Sunday (10 a.m.) at the South Lake Tahoe Ice Areana.
Becky Regan / Tahoe Daily Tribune |

The Long Beach Bombers have gotten off to a rough start, but a weekend trip to Lake Tahoe for three with the Lake Tahoe Blue could go a long way in starting their turnaround.

With as talented a roster as they have ever had, the Bombers have had no problem putting the puck in the net, but their issues have been on defense and mainly, in net.

Daniel Cepila came over from the Cheyenne Stampede in an off-season trade but hasn’t look comfortable in the Long Beach crease, going just 1-5-0 with less than stellar numbers goals against and save percentage numbers.

The Bombers began the season with a sweep at the hands of the Fresno Monsters and then dropped two to the rival Valencia Flyers, before splitting a home-and-home set with the Ontario Avalanche last weekend and looking much better in doing so.

It has taken them some time to find their way, but their first big road trip and a chance for the team to come together could be huge for them, as they try to dig themselves out of the hole here soon, or fall further behind.

According to San Diego Gulls head coach Craig Carlyle, if the Lake Tahoe Blue can get back to 100 percent health, they’re the most skilled team in the league.

That’s saying something, considering the talent teams like Idaho and El Paso have, but Carlyle stood by it and I wouldn’t argue with him.

The Blue have a group of forwards that have it all, including size, speed and skill coming from the likes of Miguel Caron, Nick Anderson, Martin Vachal, Sebastian Forslund, Josh Mikes and more.

They have been banged up a little bit early in the season, but their top nine forwards could all play on the top line and they all do a little bit of everything.

They’ve skated short in almost every game this season but have had enough in the tank lately to turn a tough start around and even up their record at 6-6-0.

Their defense has been coming along nicely, with veterans Kyle Blondin and Mark DeVaughn playing a ton of minutes and newcomer Mattia Bortolotto stepping up to help take some of the pressure off them.

The Blue still play a little bit of a “run-and-gun” style, but they have the skill to make it work. When they go up against a team with a little more structure, they’ll run into problems, as they did against Fresno.

Again however, you can’t teach skill and these three games against Long Beach will have plenty of that, so prepare for three old west shootouts.


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