12 August 2022 Kunlun Red Star
Two new faces poised for leadership roles
The Dragons have bolstered their D-core with two signings from North America. Liam Ross, 21, spent the last five seasons with the OHL’s Sudbury Wolves, concluding his spell as team captain last season.
He’s joined by Boston University alum Doyle Somerby. The 28-year-old won two NCAA titles during his college days and spent time in the Blue Jackets organization. He joins Red Star on a two-year contract.
Ross is a rising star. His final season in Sudbury saw him produce his best points-per-game return in his OHL career. Playing as an overage member of the team, he also captained the Wolves.
And, according to the club’s staff, few players are as deserving of that honor.
“Liam represents everything it means to be a Sudbury Wolf and to be a Captain,” said Sudbury Wolves VP & General Manager Rob Papineau. “He has been with us his entire OHL career and has always been outstanding in the dressing room. Liam is one of the hardest working players to ever wear a Wolves jersey and he is the perfect leader for our team.”
The new season will be the youngster’s first outside of North America. However, joining the Dragons is not a step into completely alien territory. Ross is the latest Chinese heritage player to get on board with the KRS mission. He’s also somewhat acquainted with Russian hockey, having played alongside a trio of Russian-born players – Alexei Lipanov, Kirill Nizhnikov and Dmitry Sokolov – in his early years with the Wolves.
Somerby, meanwhile, brings a wealth of experience. At Boston, he played alongside Jack Eichel and later captained a team that included Charlie McAvoy, Kieffer Bellows and Clayton Keller, all of whom are established NHLers.
After graduating college, he had three seasons in the AHL with the Cleveland Monsters. During that time, his size – Doyle stands 197cm tall and tips the scales at 102kg – made him a stand-out, but his coaches found there was more to his game than brute force.
Head coach Mike Eaves, who took charge of the team in Somerby’s third season, knew all about the d-man’s physical presence and work ethic. However, he was still impressed to see it in real life.
“No matter what happened in the last game, Doyle was always coming in ready to work. He does a lot of these unsung things like blocking shots and it is phenomenal,” said Eaves. “You need to have defensemen who are up for it and willing to do that. He is hard to play against in terms of his physicality, and I think he is finding that fine line between taking penalties and being physical.”
Somerby left Cleveland in 2020 and has since continued in the AHL with Iowa Wild and Tucson Roadrunners. Despite 244 games in the league, though, NHL opportunities never came. Therefore, Doyle is following a path trodden by several of his former Cleveland colleagues and heading to the KHL. He follows in the footsteps of Brady Austin, Jordan Schroeder, Jakub Lilja, Avangard’s new signing Alex Broadhurst and Moscow-born Nikita Korostelyov.