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Bomber Game Report: Flin Flon takes Game 7 OT thriller, wins series

They did it. After a overtime Game 7 thrill ride, the Bombers have moved on to the next round, besting Estevan.
Bomber Game Report

They did it.

After an overtime Game 7 thrill ride, the Bombers have moved on to the next round, besting Estevan.

The Bombers, who went up 2-0 in the series and lost Games 3, 4 and 5 before winning Game 6 to force a winner-take-all Game 7, took a 2-1 victory when it counted most, sending the Bruins home empty-handed and setting up a second-round series with Humboldt starting next weekend.

Flin Flon started off the night with sound and fury, coming both from the forecheck and from a packed house at the Whitney Forum, complete with all manner of noisemakers and dozens of loud and proud fans. The Bruins quickly matched that pace, but the Bombers took a pair of early quality chances, both from Alexi Sylvestre - one shot was stopped by Bruins goalie Cam Hrdlicka and went over the net, with the second clanging the post and bouncing away.

The Bruins had the game's first powerplay, with Bomber Jacob Vockler going to the box for a holding call, but the Bombers would kill that off. A quick period with few breaks or whistles wrapped up fast, with both teams hitting the dressing rooms scoreless despite mutual late pushes.

Flin Flon got a powerplay of their own in the second when Keagon Little got caught for a hold, but Estevan's PK unit stood tall. Vockler, Reece Richmond and Brock Mueller each had chances and the Bombers hogged possession, but Hrdlicka stopped all pucks that came his way.

The Bruins would strike first, with a two-on-one with Kade Runke and Owen Barrow bearing down on Cory King and Laser-Hume. Runke looked off Barrow and put his shot bar-down on Laser-Hume, giving the Bruins a 1-0 lead around the halfway point of the game.

The Bombers wouldn't get mopey though - they'd get even. With Kaelen Whittingham in the box after tripping Jacob Vockler, Ethan Mercer was Johnny on the spot, beating Hrdlicka with a wrist shot at the side of the net, tying the game.

Estevan had late chances as the clock ticked down, but once more, the game would enter the intermission tied, this time at 1-1.

Estevan started the third with momentum, killing off a Bomber powerplay and getting a prime breakaway chance. Runke was knocked down in the Bomber zone chasing a puck and lost his helmet, skating back to the bench for a change when the Bruins gained the puck and raced up ice. To increase the odds, when coming across King racing down on the backcheck, Runke put a shoulder into his chest. The interference went uncalled and Evan Forrest got behind the defence, going in on Laser-Hume all alone.

In the mano-a-mano showdown, Laser-Hume made the stop, keeping the game tied.

The Bruins had momentum at the halfway point of the period, but the Bombers started fighting back late. Jeremi Tremblay had a golden chance with five minutes to go, left all alone on a partial break, but couldn't corral the puck before he ran out of real estate and Hrdlicka made the save. Mueller had his own partial break stymied after the puck bumbled over his stick - Hrdlicka saved and froze the puck.

In the final seconds of regulation, Duperreault had a prime shot stopped by Hrdlicka, while Sylvestre raced back in for a buzzer beater attempt - but the buzzer beat him.

For the third time in the series, overtime would be required. The series was now down to a game of "next goal wins".

Estevan had won Game 3 and Game 5 in overtime - the Bombers had not had any luck in extra time so far in the series. That changed after a minute of OT, when Whittingham took his second penalty of the night, holding up Tremblay and getting caught. Flin Flon had a powerplay in overtime of Game 7.

The Bombers lost possession when Aleksa Babic knocked the puck down the ice 30 seconds into the powerplay, springing the Bruins' Cody Davis with a breakaway chance. A footrace ensued between Laser-Hume and Davis, with the goalie winning, playing the puck near the Bomber blueline and finding Cole Duperreault with a panicked pass.

Duperreault took the puck and dumped it into the Bruins zone. That puck took an awkward bounce off a stanchion in the side glass, jumping out into the slot, toward the net and bouncing in over a surprised Hrdlicka's outstretched pad. It was ugly as sin, but the goal would count.

It was over. The Bombers had won. The animals of The Zoo had finally been let loose.

Duperreault's second goal of the series finished the game and the series, advancing the Bombers into the league semifinals. The Bruins' players, stunned at the turn of events, huddled near Hrdlicka for support. The Estevan goalie was almost perfect during the game and series, stopping 39 of 41 shots in Game 7. Laser-Hume got both the win and the assist on the winning goal, making 25 saves.

The Bombers' victory provided a slight amount of revenge for last year's SJHL finals, where the Bruins and Bombers also fought to a Game 7 but the Bruins came away with a 2-0 win to clinch the title. Ten Bomber players were on the ice for that game, including Duperreault. For Flin Flon, it was a wonderful day for an exorcism.

The game marked the final junior A game for Estevan's seven 2002-born players - forwards Davis, Mitch Kohner, Daniel O'Neill and Runke, as well as defencemen Babic, Owen Miley and Robbie Stewart. Kohner and Stewart did not play in the game due to injury, while O'Neill sat out the game with a two-game suspension for a head check that all but ended his junior A career.

The Bombers will now face the second-seed Humboldt Broncos in the second round of the playoffs. The Broncos have home-ice advantage and will host Game 1 and Game 2 at the Elgar Petersen Arena in Humboldt March 31 and April 1.

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