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Bomber Game Report: Flin Flon stays alive in 5-2 Game 5 win

We have a series. The Bombers battled their way into a Game 6 in Melfort next week, beating the Mustangs 5-2 in a critical Game 5.
Bomber Game Report

We have a series.

The Bombers battled their way into a Game 6 in Melfort next week, beating the Mustangs 5-2 in a critical Game 5.

Flin Flon came into the game needing, once again, to win to continue their hopes of winning an SJHL championship. The league's title trophy, the Canterra Seeds Cup, was in the building Saturday, lest the visiting Mustangs get their title-clinching fourth win of the series.

The Bombers did what they could to prevent that from happening early, with the Bombers getting an early powerplay and buzzing Melfort's net, not scoring but coming close several times - around 1,500 people in the Whitney Forum held their breath with every touch. The penalty pendulum swung back toward the Bombers midway through the frame though, with the penalty kill needing to perform to keep the game scoreless - Flin Flon's PK bent but didn't break, staying hemmed into their own zone for long stretches but keeping the puck out, both due to defence closing up shooting lanes and Flin Flon goalie Harmon Laser-Hume stopping shots that got through.

Melfort captain Leith Olafson and Bomber forward Kylynn Olafson (who are not related) each took back-to-back boarding penalties, but neither team was able to capitalize with the man up. Some outright boardplay wars broke out over puck positions, including a big hit by Justin Lies on Melfort's Logan Belton.

With the Bombers down a man late in the first, the odds were once again against them, but Riley Niven flipped those upside down. The 21-year-old forward, who would be playing his last junior A game if the Bombers lost, batted a pass by the Mustangs out of the air and raced back the other way, going in on a breakaway on James Venne. Niven shot and beat Venne with 1:30 to go in the frame, blowing the roof off the Forum with his first goal of the playoffs shorthanded.

That said, Melfort wouldn't go away quietly. Barely a minute later, the Mustangs' Aidyn Hutchinson broke into the zone, dangled out defender Luke Lepper and came in on Laser-Hume, who he beat with a quick shot to tie the game.

The first period would end tied 1-1, with a high speed of play and many big hits. Melfort coach Trevor Blevins left the ice incensed with the officials, but no amount of rage would change the score after 20.

In the second, the Mustangs would get the lead, with a shot from the point hitting a stick near the Bomber net and abruptly stopping - Danton Cox got a stick on the immobile puck and fired it past Laser-Hume. 2-1 Melfort - if that score held, the Mustangs would end the Bombers' season on Flin Flon's home ice.

The Bombers would also not go gently into that good night, with Lepper redeeming himself for his past error, taking a point shot that Anthony Piccininno tipped in front, going past Venne and tying the game up again.

Flin Flon almost extended the lead immediately, with a puck in the slot loose and two Bombers in close trying to whack at it, but a pair of Melfort defenders tied them up and cleared the puck away.

Austin Shepherd of the Mustangs caught Piccininno with a high hit and then crumpled to the ice when a crowd gathered, leading to a pile-up which hurt Bomber Dawson Karol. The Bombers escaped the play with a powerplay - not with Shepherd in the box, but Brayden Westerlund.

The Bombers' powerplay once again generated chances but couldn't click, until after the penalty wrapped up - Jacob Vockler shovelled a backhand shot on net near Venne that hit Alexi Sylvestre, who had been pushed into the Melfort crease, and bounced into the Melfort net. The strange bounce would later stand as the game-winning goal.

Late in the frame, Carter Anderson and Justin Lies got a two-on-one and almost converted it but couldn't finish. Anderson then followed that with a penalty, getting called for crosschecking. Sylvestre almost generated a scoring chance on the penalty kill, but neither team got offence going - Flin Flon entered the third up 3-2.

Flin Flon started the third by killing off the penalty and two more on top of that, with the Bombers spending a lot of time in their own zone but forcing Melfort into taking long shots. The Mustangs descended on the Flin Flon net at one point and argued they'd scored, but officials never signalled for a goal - replay of the play showed that Laser-Hume kept the puck from crossing the goal-line, confirming the Bombers stayed up a goal.

Melfort began showing frustrations late and continued on pushing, with Ryan Duguay crushing Tyson Smith into the boards from behind and the Mustangs calling a timeout with about two minutes to go. Soon after, Anderson got the puck and eliminated doubt, coming in on Venne, toe-dragging the puck around a defender and finding paydirt high glove, pushing Flin Flon ahead by two.

With Venne then on the bench, the Bombers continued a final push in the last minute, with Niven and Justin Lies coming in and Niven dishing it to the captain, scoring on the empty net to clinch the win. Flin Flon's win extended the team's season for at least one more game, the series is now a 3-2 one in Melfort's favour and Flin Flon held strong at home.

Laser-Hume stopped 31 shots on the night, while Venne made 37 stops in the Mustangs net.

Game 6 will be played in Melfort's Northern Lights Palace April 30. If the Mustangs win, they'll clinch the league title - if the Bombers win, that confirms a winner-take-all Game 7 will be played May 3 at the Whitney Forum.

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