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Tuesday, 05 July 2011 16:55

Broncos happy with import draft selection

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By Chris Jaster — This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Mark Lamb hopes he solved the Swift Current Broncos goaltending dilemma during the CHL Import Draft June 29.

With the sixth overall pick, Lamb, the Broncos’ general manager and head coach, selected 17-year-old Norwegian goalie Steffen Søberg, a player he believes has the potential to be the Broncos’ starting net minder for the next few seasons.

“We’re pumped,” said Lamb. “We haven’t had a strong number one goalie here for a few years. He goes into the draft and gets drafted in the fourth round by the Washington Capitals, which ends up being their first pick. They traded away picks, so he’s their first pick in the NHL draft. They have high expectations of him also.”

The Broncos were left without a starting goalie for the 2011-12 season after last year’s starter, Mark Friesen, graduated from the league. That leaves Austin Smith and Derek Tendler as the two returning goalies, but neither player received much time between the pipes last season.

Not sure whether either of the two returning goalies will be able to step up to fill the void between the pipes, Lamb kept his eyes open for impressive goaltenders while he was in Germany as Canada’s assistant coach for the U-18 World Championship.
Søberg quickly grabbed Lamb’s attention. Despite playing for a team that only won one game in the tournament, Norway, Søberg kept his team in a lot of the games by sporting a 3.90 goals-against average and a .931 save percentage.

Lamb found Søberg to be just as impressive when Canada defeated Norway 5-0 in its preliminary game. The Norwegian stopped 58 of 63 shots in the loss.

“He played really good hockey,” said Lamb, who already has gotten Søberg to commit to playing for the Broncos. “They were outmatched pretty good over there and we played against him and he was outstanding. He would keep the Norwegian team in a lot of these games.

“He caught everybody’s eye over there.”

Søberg’s age is another reason the Broncos were interested in him.

Lamb believes the Broncos may get up to three years of service out of Søberg before he becomes too old for the league. That, according to the Broncos’ bench boss, fits in perfectly with his plan to rebuild the team over the next few seasons.

The Broncos selected two defencemen in the first round of the WHL Bantam Draft this year, who Lamb expects to anchor the blue line along with the likes of Reece Scarlett and Richard Nedomlel during the 2012-13 season.

Lamb believes his defencemen will prove to be strong when Brycen Martin and Zach Gonek arrive next fall, giving Søberg a lot of support. That will allow the Broncos to focus on scoring to become a legitimate contender in the WHL.

Although there will be high expectations for Søberg when he arrives in Swift Current, Lamb isn’t willing to hand over the starting role to the 17-year-old just yet. He expects Søberg to prove himself as the best horse in the Broncos’ goaltending stable.
According to Lamb, Søberg is up for the challenge.

“I talked to Steffen (after the draft) and he’s a highly motivated kid and he wants to play and he wants to improve,” said Lamb.

“These kids want to play in the NHL and that’s why he’s coming over. He wants to play and prove himself and play in the league that can get him better prepared to play in the NHL or play pro.”

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