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Bomber Game Report: Bruins take series lead with Game 5 OT win

It is said that a team isn't in trouble in a playoff series until they lose at home. If that's the case, the Bombers are in deep trouble.
Bomber Game Report.

It is said that a team isn't in trouble in a playoff series until they lose at home. If that's the case, the Bombers are in deep trouble.

Estevan tied the game back on the Bombers in the third period, then beat them in overtime to pick up their first Whitney Forum win since 2021. Flin Flon is now down 3-2 in their first-round series and will need to win two straight games against the Bruins to continue their season.

The Bombers continued to play undermanned heading into Game 5, tied at two all in the series. Jaeden Mercier, one of the team's top forwards, was back out of the lineup after being injured in Game 4, while Zach Cain slotted back into the team's plans after three weeks on the injured list. Forward Jeremi Tremblay took warmups with the team but did not play, while Cole Duperreault and Matt Egan both remain out action.

Flin Flon dominated possession early, getting plenty of shots in the opening minutes, but had trouble putting hard chances on Bruins goalie Cam Hrdlicka. A quick first period came and went with no goals, penalties or much animosity to speak of.

In the second, the first two penalties of the game were called - coincidental minors on Bomber Lucas Fry and Bruin Jagjeevan Phangura - putting the teams into 4-on-4.

With the extra space, the Bombers struck first - Noah Houle found his way into the slot and beat Hrdlicka clean, making it 1-0 Flin Flon.

More chances came later in the frame for Flin Flon - Brock Mueller got a breakaway chance but was held up by a Bruin defender, drawing outrage from Mueller but no call from the officials, who mostly kept their whistles in their pockets Friday night. The Bombers continued to put shots on Hrdlicka, but the Calgary native was up to the task otherwise, keeping the Bruins in the game heading into the third.

The third period brought more Flin Flon momentum, but no goals to show for it. Reece Richmond got boarded in his own zone and was slow to get up, but once more the whistles stayed silent.

The tide turned Estevan's way midway through the frame, keeping the Bombers hemmed in their zone for minutes-long stretches. Flin Flon caught a break when Daniel O'Neill was given a two-and-10 for a head hit on Kylynn Olafson, giving them a rare powerplay, but two minutes would come and go with nothing to show for it.

On the other end, Fry was given two minutes for holding with less than eight minutes to go, drawing the ire of a raucous Whitney Forum crowd. With the man advantage, the Bruins tied the game, with Cody Davis beating Harmon Laser-Hume at a bad angle to tie the game with barely seven minutes to go. Another Flin Flon penalty would be called moments later, but the Bombers were able to successfully mount their biggest penalty kill to date this year.

Flin Flon had late pressure, with Fry being Johnny on the spot for a late chance at a mostly open net, but a Bruin defender's stick caught just enough of the puck to send the shot wide. Fry would then have to race back and shut down a Bruin odd-man rush, which he managed to do.

Sixty minutes would not provide a winner. For the second time in the series, overtime would be required.

The Bombers pushed hard early, once more dominating possession and getting most of the quality chances. Vockler had an open shot that forced a scrum in front of Hrdlicka and a loose puck, but the goalie would save it and freeze it. Cain had a point blank chance of his own eight minutes in, with Tanchuk taking a hard shot moments later and Cory King hitting the goal post with another chance seconds after that. The Bombers would put shot after shot on Hrdlicka - up 10-2 on shots after 11 minutes - but the goalie would stand tall.

Finally, about 17 minutes into the extra frame, Davis would get a loose puck in the Bomber zone, walk out from the corner and pick a corner on Laser-Hume, finding a small sliver of open net over the goalie's shoulder. The puck went in, the Bruins had triumphed and for the first time in months, the Whitney Forum was silent.

Laser-Hume made 34 saves on the evening, including a pair of show-stopper glove saves in the first and second periods, but would be saddled with the L. Hrdlicka stopped an incredible 66 out of 67 shots on the night.

The Bomber loss marked the first time the Bruins had won in the Whitney Forum since Nov. 20, 2021, when the Bruins eked out a 3-2 win. Since then, Estevan had played seven straight games - including three in last year's league final, two this season and two earlier in the series - at the Forum without a win, a span of 471 days.

The loss puts the Bombers behind the eight-ball in their series. The next game will be Game 6, played at Estevan's Affinity Place Sunday night. A Bomber win will send the series into a winner-take-all Game 7 at the Forum Tuesday night - a loss will end the Bombers' season.

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