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Bomber Game Report: Final exhibition ends with Bombers beating La Ronge

The Bombers ended their preseason with an exclamation point, beating arch-rivals La Ronge 4-2 Thursday night.
Bomber Game Report 5
Bomber Game Report

The Bombers ended their preseason with an exclamation point, beating arch-rivals La Ronge 4-2 Thursday night.

Snagging an early lead, Flin Flon pushed the pace from start to finish, ending their exhibition campaign with a 4-1 record.

Flin Flon iced a lineup made up with several veteran players and some rookies playing for roster spots. One of those veterans ended up getting the Bombers' first prime chances, as Alexi Sylvestre had not one but two close calls in the opening moments.

Not long after, it was a new acquisition that opened the scoring for Flin Flon. Bailey Ewonus handled the puck off a backboard bounce from Cole Tanchuk and put it past La Ronge netminder Karl Soneff. La Ronge got some offence of their own not long after, with a long point shot hitting some bodies in front on an Ice Wolves powerplay and beating Harmon Laser-Hume. The goal was credited to rookie Cole Wilmert - the game was tied.

The Ice Wolves tried the same play a couple times following with little success, while the Bombers would re-take the lead late in the period. With the puck buzzing around the La Ronge zone, a couple whacks at a loose puck would be saved by Soneff, but Jacob Vockler found the puck in traffic and the Merrimack College commit popped it home, making it 2-1 Flin Flon.

La Ronge pushed late in the first, with a few wraparound reverse plays meant to fool Laser-Hume, but the veteran goalie stopped those in their tracks.

At the final whistle of the first, Wilmert gave Sylvestre a shot near the boards, which Vockler didn't take kindly to, stepping up to Wilmert. That led to both sides' players converging on the boards and a physical exchange, which referees wrapped up a moment later, hustling both teams to their dressing rooms. When the dust settled, Vockler received a roughing penalty, Justin Lies had a roughing call and a 10-minute misconduct and Wilmert took a roughing call, a cross-checking call and his own 10-minute misconduct.

Entering the second, the physical play continued, this time from La Ronge's Dylan Handel, who got tangled with the Bombers' Liam Bridger and crosschecked him from behind, hitting him in the back of the head and knocking him to the ice face-first. Bridger was down on the ice for a moment before getting back up, face bloodied and a blood trail visible on the ice, while Handel was booted from the game for a hit to the head.

That gave the Bombers a five-minute long powerplay, but despite plenty of chances - a total of 12 shots in all - the Ice Wolves had an answer for all of them, keeping the game 2-1 when things evened back up.

Another group hug in the corner led to more coincidental penalties, with the Bombers breaking through not long after. Sylvestre got the credit after a long shot from the point hit the net, was initially saved by goalie Logan Abric and then bobbled up and over him and into the net. Vockler almost had his second of the night late, with a chance at a wide-open breakaway, but he was hooked from behind by La Ronge's Jamieson Franz, taking the penalty but possibly saving a goal. The Bombers couldn't convert on the powerplay, entering the third up 3-1.

More occasional tillies would break out throughout the final period, with both teams getting chippy late. On the way into the zone during a mid-third period rush, La Ronge's Payton Hu tripped a Bomber backchecker and wasn't called. Ten seconds later, once the Ice Wolves established possession, Hu got into the high slot, found some open ice and fired a wrister past Laser-Hume, cutting the lead to one. Both Bomber players and the team's faithful were displeased, but the goal was a goal and the result stayed the same.

The Bombers also had a scary moment midway through the period, when an Ice Wolf player laid a nifty move to avoid an oncoming Bomber defender, who then powered through and accidentally nailed teammate Trevor Stenglein with a big friendly-fire bodycheck. The hit laid Stenglein out on the ice and he needed help to reach the bench.

Flin Flon poured the pressure on late, almost getting another goal from a joint rush between Anthony Piccininno and Ewonus - Piccininno was stopped by Abric when he fired a shot. Not long after though, a breakthrough for the Bombers - a rebound squirted out of a crowd and, once more, Vockler was on the puck quickly, knocking it past the goalie for his second of the night.

The Ice Wolves fought back late, with forward William Forsberg scraping and clawing in close late, almost running Laser-Hume twice while crashing the crease, but the goalie stood tall - as did the Bomber defence, who withstood two minutes of 6-on-5 hockey once the goalie had been pulled.

Laser-Hume stopped 26 of 28 shots on the night - Soneff and Abric ate a joint loss, with Abric saving eight shots and Soneff making 26 saves.

The game ends the Bombers' five-game preseason schedule. The team will now have just over a week to plan for their opening pair of games next weekend - first an opening game on the road in Nipawin Sept. 22, then the home opener for the Bombers at the Whitney Forum Sept. 23 against the Melfort Mustangs.

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