During his two seasons as a forward on the University of Maine hockey team, Ryan Lomberg gained a reputation on the ice for being a tough customer who never minded the physical, hard-hitting nature of his chosen sport. In the 2013-14 season, Lomberg, in addition to being the Black Bears’ third-leading goal scorer (11), was the team’s co-leader in penalty minutes (40). He also earned a one-game suspension from Hockey East for an excessively violent elbow he landed during a February 15 game against Merrimack. Everyone who follows Maine hockey closely knows that Ryan Lomberg doesn’t back down.
Off the ice, however, discretion is usually the better part of valor. Generally, it’s ill-advised to be responsible for someone’s broken nose and concussion in a fight stemming from a dispute over a mutual acquaintance’s dog. However, those are exactly the accusations with which Lomberg was charged on May 8. Those charges, to which Lomberg entered a not guilty plea, started a chain of events that appeared to end on Monday when, among others, WCSH’s Lee Goldberg tweeted confirmation that Lomberg has officially left the University of Maine and its hockey team in order to report to camp for the USHL’s Lincoln Stars.
Certainly, this was not the way anyone in Black Bear Nation, including Lomberg, envisioned his Maine hockey career would come to an end. Given the circumstances, however, Fill The Steins has two sentiments for Lomberg: goodbye and good luck.
Make no mistake, we mean both very sincerely. Let’s tackle the “goodbye” first. While no one can deny Lomberg’s positive contributions on the ice, there is no room for character issues in Black Bear athletics. While “innocent until proven guilty” clearly applies in this situation, there should be no margin for error in collegiate athletics when it comes to brushes with the law. One can only imagine how Lomberg’s situation would have been handled were he a big time football or basketball player at a big time football or basketball school. Fortunately, there’s still a relative amount of amateurism left in college hockey, and Maine was correct to suspend him immediately and indefinitely from the hockey program.
Likewise, Lomberg is correct to explore other options that allow him to immediately continue playing the sport he loves. He’s a 19-year-old who allegedly made a boneheaded decision. While that means he shouldn’t be allowed to represent the University of Maine anymore, it doesn’t mean he shouldn’t be allowed to play hockey. Lomberg is wisely exercising his final year of junior hockey eligibility to go play for the Stars, who acquired his USHL rights from the Muskegon Lumberjacks on July 11. Hopefully, he will have a successful season with Lincoln and put himself in position to move further into the professional hockey ranks either domestically or abroad. If pro hockey ends up not panning out, Lomberg can always re-enroll in college (UMaine or otherwise) after his final junior hockey season, complete his education, get his apparent temper in check, and become a productive member of society.
Unfortunately, the world of junior hockey is littered with young men who unsuccessfully chase their dream, don’t finish school, and end up treading water in the game of life. The University of Maine hockey program will be just fine without Ryan Lomberg. We can only wish Lomberg the best in his future endeavors and hope that he’ll be just fine without UMaine hockey.
What are your thoughts on the Ryan Lomberg situation? Join the conversation in the comments section below and on Twitter using #FillTheSteins!
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