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Bomber Game Report: Flin Flon drops Game 3 in overtime, series sits at 2-1

It will not be a sweep. The Bombers had a 3-1 third period lead on Estevan in Game 3, but fell 4-3 in overtime.
Bomber Game Report

It will not be a sweep. The Bombers had a 3-1 third period lead on Estevan in Game 3, but fell 4-3 in overtime.

The Bomber roster saw two changes heading into the game, with Rylan Pearce, a 17-year-old defender who's been playing up as a forward due to Flin Flon's ongoing injury woes, out for Games 3 and 4 after a high hit on Estevan's Mitch Kohner in Game 2. On top of that, forward Jacob Vockler was out for the game with the flu.

To replace Pearce and Vockler, the Bombers moved Noah Houle from defence to the team's second forward line and brought in former Bomber Noah Kuntz to fill Houle's spot out back. Kuntz, a 20-year-old from Regina, played 27 games as a Bomber in regular season, playoffs and the Centennial Cup, but had stayed in Regina to play junior B and attend university - it had been more than 10 months since his last game as a Bomber. 17-year-old Jack Bechard would slot into the lineup to fill Vockler's spot up front. Estevan would get Kohner back in the lineup too - while the forward missed much of Game 2 after Pearce's hit, he was part of the Bruins' starting lineup for Game 3.

The Bruins would go on a penalty kill midway through the period, but Estevan burned the Bomber powerplay. Owen Barrow took advantage of a rebound and a high stretch pass and broke in on a breakaway, beating Harmon Laser-Hume and making it 1-0 Estevan.

That lead wouldn't last long and it was the Bruins' prodigal son who did the deed. With the powerplay still in effect, Alex Von Sprecken teed up a slapshot and beat former teammate Cam Hrdlicka, tying up the game.

Ping-pong hockey would be the order of the day for the rest of the first otherwise, with the second period starting up as a 1-1 tie.

The Bombers would draw first blood in the second, getting it from an unexpected source - captain Lucas Fry, who had scored twice in his 122 games on the Bomber blueline before Tuesday, got a wrist shot through traffic and past Hrdlicka, tallying his first goal since Oct. 21.

Flin Flon got into penalty trouble halfway through the second, taking four straight minors, but the Bombers killed them all off and got a couple of shorthanded chances. With three minutes left in the second, one of those chances led to a Liam Bridger and Barron Stibbe two-on-one with a man short. Bridger shot and beat Hrdlicka clean, putting the Bombers up 3-1, quieting the Bruin crowd and heading into the third with a two-goal lead.

Estevan brought the game back midway through the third, with a shot by Jagjeevan Phangura getting by Laser-Hume to make it 3-2, then Phangura setting up Ilia Chmelevski for a two-on-one goal to tie the game with just under eight minutes left to play.

The Bombers took a big hit - literally and figuratively - as Reece Richmond, the team's leading scorer on defence, took a hard check and limped to the bench. He would stay in the game.

The Bruins had momentum late with the game tied, but with 2:40 to go in regulation time, the Bombers caught a break - Estevan defender Aleksa Babic slashed Brent Gulenchyn's stick out of his hands, meaning an Estevan penalty and a Bomber powerplay. Despite a smattering of Bomber shots, Hrdlicka and Estevan's defence held tall and killed the penalty off.

Estevan got one more chance in the dying moments of the third, but a shot went wide right before the horn sounded.

Overtime would be needed.

In the opening seconds of the opening frame, the Bruins got a chance with Phangura and Chmelevski descending on the Bomber net - Laser-Hume smothered the puck for the whistle. A minute later on the other end, Kylynn Olafson had a golden chance to end it for Flin Flon, but Hrdlicka outwaited him and made a huge save. Ethan Mercer had another great chance for the Bombers on a partial break, but Hrdlicka kicked out his leg to stop it.

Gradually, the Bruins put Flin Flon on their heels, getting more shots and dangerous chances. Phangura got a breakaway chance after 14 minutes of play, but Richmond got back to swat the puck away and Laser-Hume made a game-saving stop.

Estevan got a golden opportunity with four minutes to go in the period. Von Sprecken got his pocket picked near the Bomber blue line by Estevan's Sal Collora, who came in on Laser-Hume all alone. The goalie made the save and fell back on the puck, keeping it out of the net, but near the goal, Houle was given a cross-checking penalty after making contact with a Bruin player. Late in overtime, Estevan would get a powerplay for two minutes or less.

While the Bruins had chances, the Bombers had answers and killed off arguably their most important penalty of the year so far. Brock Mueller had a great chance in the slot, but Hrdlicka stopped him at point blank range with his blocker.

With less than a minute left in the overtime period, a shot was deflected off of Hrdlicka and into the neutral zone, where two Bruins - Barrow and Cody Davis - beared down on Cory King on a two-on-one. Davis kept the puck first, then fed Barrow, who made no mistake, beating Laser-Hume, ending the game and making it a 2-1 series.

The Bombers' loss guarantees a third home game in Flin Flon during the series - Game 5, regardless of the outcome of Wednesday's Game 4, will take place at the Whitney Forum Friday night.

Estevan put up 15 shots during the overtime period, compared to Flin Flon's nine. Hrdlicka, having made 33 saves, got his first win of the playoffs, while Laser-Hume, who stopped 39 shots, was saddled with the L.

The Bombers are still without five forwards, including Vockler who travelled with the team but did not play. Zach Cain, Cole Duperreault, Matt Egan and Jeremi Tremblay are all still out of the lineup, representing 90 of the 200 goals the Bombers scored during the regular season.

Elsewhere in the SJHL, the Battlefords North Stars pulled back ahead in their series with Weyburn, beating the Wings 3-0, while Nipawin will fend off a sweep against second-place Humboldt, beating the Broncos 4-3. La Ronge and Melfort's game was delayed and moved from its original location - a broken coolant line under the ice made the Mel Hegland Uniplex unable to be used for the game, forcing the game to Air Ronge's Jonas Roberts Memorial Community Centre. 

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