KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Late last week the Knoxville Ice Bears announced the return of captain Lucas Bombardier for the upcoming 2019-2020 campaign. Coach Jeff Carr said of his captain in the simplest of terms:
“Lucas is everything a coach looks for in a player.”
Bombardier and his consistent leadership are what kept the Ice Bears on a hot streak to end the previous year, despite a plethora of roster moves changing the team dynamic.
After his senior year of college hockey at Trine University, Bombardier joined the Ice Bears at the end of the 2017-2018 campaign. When asked what he saw in Bombardier when he brought him into the team Coach Carr said, “He’s someone who has the clutch gene. He also has the ability to get goals around the front of the net, along with his quiet demeanor that everyone just gravitates to.”
Bombardier was initially brought in On February 13th, 2018, by Carr from D3 Trine (Ind.) University to bolster a solid roster going into the playoffs. As a young guy looking to make a playoff team, making a statement and having an impact is extremely important. Bombardier took the challenge of making a statement to heart. In a touch-and-go role on the team, Bombardier played in 18 games late in the season and scored eight points. Bombardier solidified his spot on the playoff roster in the last series of the regular season against the Pensacola Ice Flyers. In the first game of the two-game series, Bombardier went out and fought Mark Esshaki after Esshaki had crosschecked Knoxville defenseman Alex Adams in the face. At that moment the Ice Bears faithful saw their first glimpse of Bombardier’s leadership potential.
With a retooled roster to start the 2018-2019 campaign, Bombardier came out of the gates on fire. He would fight Evansville’s Ross Scherma on opening night in Knoxville. Bombardier was setting the tone for the upcoming season during a game filled with opening game excitement from both teams. However, the story doesn’t end there. Bombardier would fight Roanoke’s Patrick Harrison the next night in Roanoke after Bombardier felt Harrison was taking liberties on Liam Kerins. Bombardier also started the season on a scoring tear, with eight points in the teams first four games. Ultimately Bombardier would be named the team’s captain. While being named the captain of a professional team as a rookie might seem like a daunting task, it was nothing new for Bombardier. He has been a captain at both the high school and collegiate levels. Leadership is in Bombardier’s DNA.
Bombardier’s captaincy is not an in-your-face style. He leads through actions, being a consistent contributor, and working relentlessly on and off the ice. Most importantly, he never loses his head. Bombardier is calm and controlled regardless of the situation.
In the 2018- 2019 season Bombardier was a consistent scorer, amassing 39 points (18G, 21A) while playing in all 56 regular-season games and every postseason game as well. Carr reveals Bombardier’s point total from last season could have been higher, saying, “He played from January through the rest of the season with a bad shoulder. Basically playing with one arm. If he was healthy, he was probably a 60 point guy.”
While his scoring was essential, what was more impactful was his unwavering leadership on and off the ice. Bombardier was willing to step into the fray and protect his teammates at all cost, never losing his composure. Almost half of the 57 penalty minutes Bombardier amassed were for scraps when sticking up for teammates.
Bombardier will lead a roster into the 2019-20 campaign that is mostly intact from the last year’s semifinal run. The lineup will have familiar faces like Stefan Brucato, Hayden Stewart, and David Brancik with more returning players yet to be announced. Knoxville might fly under the radar when the pundits make their preseason picks, and Knoxville’s silent leader wouldn’t have it any other way.
Follow J.T. on Twitter at @SinBinIceBears