Skip to content

At trying time for community's future, Flin Flon rallies around Bomber playoff run

The Flin Flon Bombers will hit the ice on the road this weekend to start their SJHL final series. League glory is on the line - but for Flin Flon, there is far more than just the Canalta Cup at stake.
N16 Bomber Bigger Picture
A selection of signs seen on homes and storefronts around Flin Flon, each showing support for the Bombers, for individual players and warning opponents to "Don’t Mess with the Moose Leg."

The Flin Flon Bombers will hit the ice on the road this weekend to start their SJHL final series. League glory is on the line - but for Flin Flon, there is far more than just the Canalta Cup at stake.

With a berth in the league finals, the Bombers have a chance to win their first championship in almost 30 years. The team is assured of a spot in the Centennial Cup, a shot at a national title, for the first time in over 20 years. The last time the Bombers won a national title came all the way back in 1957 when the then-major junior Bombers won the 1957 Memorial Cup - the street that runs north of the Whitney Forum is named after that win.

Larry Feszczyn may be one of the Bombers’ biggest fans. For much of the last four decades, Feszczyn has watched the team, travelled to see the team on the road and volunteered with the team, even manning the PA system at the Whitney Forum and doing all manner of other tasks with the club.

In his time watching the team, Feszczyn says he’s only seen the kind of buzz currently seen throughout the community a few times - including in 1993, when the Bombers last won an SJHL championship.

“The atmosphere of the whole town, it’s just buzzing and it was about the same in ‘93 as well,” he said.

Cyndi Pedwell owns Ped’s Threads, an apparel business that makes and sells Bomber merchandise and operates an online store for the team. The web store is accessible from the team’s website at bombers.ca - physical goods are sold in-person at Pedwell’s store.

“We’ve had a lot of costumers come in and purchase a lot of team merchandise - they’re coming specifically for that,” she said.

Buyers are ordering Bomber gear from all over the place - Pedwell says Bomber fans have ordered merchandise from five different U.S. states and four different provinces.

“We look like we care and we go farther than other communities,” she said.

The Bombers’ accomplishments come at a time where the team’s success takes on a bigger meaning. For the team and its players, it comes after a wretched end to the regular season when the team dropped from third to fifth in the standings, going 3-9 in the last month of the season. After going back to the drawing board (and, according to accounts, setting an issue of the Reminder that detailed the team’s struggles on fire in a sort of cleansing rite), the team has won eight of their last nine games and upset both Battlefords and Humboldt.

“We were almost fighting for first and second all season. That’s how close and competitive the league is. When you start losing a few, you go down a few notches,” Feszczyn said.

“When we get into the finals, the whole town always rallies and then everybody starts jumping on the bandwagon and away we go. I think this does feel a little different - to me it's kind of like we limped into the playoffs. Normally, teams are hot going into playoffs, but look what we did and look where we are.”

For the franchise itself, the team’s success comes after two challenging seasons. After two years where play was suspended due to COVID-19 - including one where the team finished second overall heading into playoffs and had legitimate title hopes - a full-capacity, full-volume Whitney Forum is a welcome sight for all involved. A playoff run is good for the team, for the community - and for Pedwell, good for business.

“We’ve had a few players’ parents come in and they’re so pumped, so excited to be in our town. The fans are so supportive and the community is so supportive. To me, that makes me feel good to be from here,” she said.

Outside the rink sits another, bigger storyline - the looming closure of much of Hudbay’s Flin Flon-area operations. The company plans to close the 777 mine in the next few months and will shut down other parts of its main compound, which is so close to the Whitney Forum that it shares a parking lot on game nights. Many workers may leave for Snow Lake - hundreds of others may be laid off.

At a time when the future is uncertain for the community and, by extension, the Bombers, the team providing something worthy of celebration has been the right thing at the right time for fans - at best, a needed breath of fresh air and at worst, one more big party before someone shuts off the lights.

“That’s another thing - this town needs something positive for a change. This is helping,” Feszczyn said.

“It’s putting everybody in a better mood, instead of doom and gloom. The town needs something positive to change. The town needs this, that’s for sure.”

“We can come together for a common, positive cause. This is exciting, this is fun and this is all about coming together to celebrate,” Pedwell said.

“The ‘H-word’ - what they’re doing, it’s very negative and their changes aren’t causing growth for us. If anything, it’s giving us fears of ‘Who’s going to be left living here?’ ‘What is their lifestyle going to be like?’ ‘Are they going to be shopping locally?’ ‘If they’re week-on, week-off, are they going somewhere else?’”

The Bombers-Bruins series starts Friday night in Estevan, with Game 2 set for Saturday night. Feszczyn plans to make the trip south to see those games, along with several other fans - so many that the Bombers are planning to send a bus of fans to Estevan.

“Go and experience the ride - enjoy the ride. The more fans we have, the more we boost our team. Take the trip. It doesn’t happen all the time that the Bombers make the final,” he said.

“The league should let us in the playoffs every year - look at what we do. In Humboldt there, there had to be 300 of us - the hotels, the tickets, the meals, that’s all helping the other communities.”