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Bomber Game Report: Flin Flon snaps losing streak and clinches first place

The Bombers got back in the win column Saturday in Kindersley, winning 4-2 - and clinching first place in the SJHL's regular season standings to boot.
Bomber Game Report

The Bombers got back in the win column Saturday in Kindersley, winning 4-2 - and clinching first place in the SJHL's regular season standings to boot.

Flin Flon stopped their recent three-game losing skid in the final game of their three-games-in-three-nights road trip, mathematically clinching at least a tie for first in the SJHL standings and, with tiebreakers, giving the Bombers the first seed in the upcoming playoffs.

The Bombers laid it on thick against the Klippers early while keeping the home team's attack at bay, with that attack paying off late in the first when Riley Niven fired a quick one-timer past Kindersley goalie Cody Jaman. Jaman, who played his second game in as many nights after stopping 39 shots against the Bombers Friday, would be pelted again, but the Klippers and Jaman kept the deficit to one after one.

Flin Flon built up their lead with a goal early in the second period, with Keefe Gruener getting the monkey off his back by putting home a second effort, scoring his second goal as a Bomber. A pair of breakaway chances by Carter Anderson were stopped by Jaman.

From there, the Bombers got into penalty trouble late in the second, which allowed a familiar face to cut their lead in half. On the powerplay, the Bombers could not contain the Klippers' powerplay, leading to a scramble in front where Brock Mueller whacked home a big goal, his first against the team that traded him away last month at the deadline.

Kindersley made pushes throughout the rest of the second, but Flin Flon staved them off, keeping a 2-1 lead into the third.

Flin Flon put the screws to the Klippers in the third, capitalizing on their own scrambles in front. Gruener almost scored his second of the night, beating Jaman, but the goal was waved off - officials ruled that Niven, who knocked the puck down with his hand right before the goal, had illegally used his hand to pass the puck to Gruener.

It wouldn't matter in the net - not long after, Dawson Karol found the puck in traffic near Jaman and passed it out to Kylynn Olafson, who got his fifth goal of the year by getting clear of the pile and firing it past Jaman.

The Klippers thought they got the game within one, but had a disallowed goal of their own - a point shot was tipped in by John Vanden Elzen past Harmon Laser-Hume but the refs immediately called a high-stick on Vanden Elzen, leading to boos from Klippers fans and shouts from the Kindersley bench.

Kindersley would get their goal late though, courtesy of Cam Perlinger, who put a bad-angle shot past Laser-Hume in close, making it a one goal game with less than three minutes left.

The Klippers would get the Bombers hemmed into their zone late, pushing for that tying goal and pulling Jaman. Despite that pressure, it came to nothing - Adam McNutt slapped a clearing attempt from behind his own net off a stanchion and into the empty net, scoring from way downtown to ice a hard-fought win.

Laser-Hume got the victory with 22 saves, while Jaman stopped 35 of 39 Bomber shots.

The win gives the Bombers 84 points and a 41-6-2-0 record. Flin Flon is now 14 points clear of the Battlefords North Stars and both teams have seven regular season games left to play. If the Stars win all seven of their remaining games and the Bombers lose all seven of theirs, the two teams would end the season tied for first - but Flin Flon holds both tiebreakers over the Stars.

In the SJHL, if two teams end the season tied in the standings, the league uses regulation and overtime wins as the first tiebreak, then the two teams' head-to-head records. Flin Flon currently has a nine-win lead over the Stars in regulation and overtime wins (39 to 30), one the Stars cannot catch in seven games. In head-to-head play, the Bombers won three of the four games they played with the Stars, meaning if the Bombers somehow ended the season on a seven-game losing streak, they would still finish first.

At the bottom of the standings, only one team is confirmed to not be in this year's playoffs - last-place Notre Dame, who have 30 points. If the Hounds win the rest of their games, the most they can earn is 44 points - not enough to catch eighth-place Weyburn, who have 46 points. La Ronge, who sit second last, are next at risk, with 35 points and a maximum possible score of 47 points - one loss in regulation time for the Ice Wolves or one win for Weyburn will knock the Ice Wolves out of the playoff hunt.

The Bombers now have seven games to go, three of which will be played at home. Flin Flon will play host to the Estevan Bruins next week, playing games March 1-2 at the Whitney Forum. From there, the Bombers will face Melfort on the road March 6, La Ronge at home March 8, then play all three remaining games on the road - against Nipawin March 10, then against Humboldt March 15-16.

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