On Aug. 13, the Barrhead Bombers announced that they had signed their first player, Ian Sotlar.
“We are really excited to have Ian join our club,” said Bombers general manager and head coach Todd White.
Sotlar is a 17-year-old goaltender who last played for the HK Olimpija U18 team in Ljubljana, Slovenia.
In 23 games, Sotlar recorded a goal against average (GAA) of 3.36 and a save percentage of .903. He also played in five playoff games backstopping his team to the Slovenian championship and recording a GAA of 4.21 and a save percentage of .904.
“That’s in a league with international competition,” he said, noting the Olimpija played against squads in the Czech Republic, Poland, Slovenia and Western Ukraine.
White added the team is close to announcing the signing of three more players from Ukraine, but are holding off until their VISAs are finalized.
He said when it comes to signing players, especially from Europe, where much of the Bombers’ roster is expected to come from, it is all about having connections.
“People who can point you in the way of promising prospects,” he said, noting associate coach Sergyi Ivanyuk has been a great help in this area.
Ivanyuk played professional hockey in Eastern European Hockey League in the 1990s and still has several contacts in the region.
As for how things are shaping up for the rest of the team’s preparation of the team’s first season in Barrhead, White said it is coming together.
“It’s been a bit of a whirlwind that’s for sure,” he said, admitting the timeline from when the Bombers announced they would be coming to Barrhead is tight, but he was confident everything would be in place by the time the puck dropped for the team’s first home game, expected to be in mid-October.
The Bombers’ who play in the Western States Hockey League (WSHL) announced they would be relocating their franchise to Barrhead from Long Beach, Calif. in early July.
The WSHL is a Tier II Junior ‘A’ hockey league. It differs from conventional Canadian leagues in that it allows a large percentage of team’s roster to include imports, players from other than North America.
White said the hockey side is coming along nicely, noting that they have filled their goaltending slots and in the coming days they will have completed their list of players they will invite to the team’s main camp Aug. 23 to 25.
However, the off-ice component has been a little more challenging.
The Bombers have secured four of the 10 billet families they expect to need, including one that might be willing to serve as a coordinator.
“What we really need now is someone who will serve as a game-day coordinator,” White said. “Someone to get the off-ice officials, work with security, our announcers and broadcasters.”
The Bombers are looking to augment trainer bench staff, with a volunteer that will organize the dressing room, fill water bottles, help with sticks, et cetera. They would also like to add a local trainer to the mix and potentially a local volunteer assistant coach.
White said he is also working with parks and recreation staff to make sure the team’s arrival doesn’t disrupt any other user groups.
“Our morning skates will be at 10 a.m. and our practice times will be Monday through Thursday from 2:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.,” he said, adding for 22 estimated home games nights the Bombers will reserve a three-hour block starting at 7:30 p.m. “We are doing our utmost to be good ice-time neighbours.”