Skip to content

Bomber Game Report: Melfort wins the title, beating Flin Flon 4-1 in Game 6

It's over. The Bombers could not complete the comeback Tuesday night, losing Game 6 to Melfort 4-1 and losing the SJHL title for the third straight season.

It's over.

The Bombers could not complete the comeback Tuesday night, losing Game 6 to Melfort 4-1 and losing the SJHL title for the third straight season.

The biggest news heading into Game 6 came off the ice - Ryan Duguay, one of the Mustangs' most lethal offensive threats, was issued a two-game suspension from the league for a hit from behind late in Game 5 that knocked Bomber forward Tyson Smith out of the lineup. Smith is unlikely to return for the playoffs - Duguay was now ineligible to play in Game 6.

Period one was even, with both teams coming out cautious. The Bombers and Mustangs, knowing what was at stake, played mostly risk-averse hockey - nobody wanted to make the first mistake.

There were still chances - the Mustangs' top unit came in on a three-on-two that Harmon Laser-Hume stopped and Flin Flon mounted an attack midway through that Mustangs goalie James Venne managed to save. With both teams managing only single digits in shots through the first, Flin Flon and Melfort both entered the second period scoreless.

In the second, Melfort started with momentum and Logan Belton getting a prime chance in close - Noah Houle hauled him down, drawing a penalty, but the officials said Belton embellished his fall to the ice, earning him a misconduct and making the game four-on-four.

With the game at four-on-four, the Mustangs drew first blood, doing so in bizarre circumstances. Tye Evans took a shot on net that appeared to bounce high above the net and before falling in past Laser-Hume. The Bomber netminder was incensed, skating directly to the official to argue he was interfered with, but the goal would stand and Melfort would take a 1-0 lead. Evans was credited with the goal.

Melfort built on the momentum from the goal and kept pushing, getting a powerplay and forcing the issue on Laser-Hume. The Bombers killed the penalty off, but were playing off their heels, having been hemmed in for almost all of the early second.

Flin Flon began asserting themselves midway through the frame, getting their first chance on a powerplay. Alexi Sylvestre almost got the Bombers on the board with a cut to the net, but Venne knocked it away. A frantic sequence later in the call saw the Bombers get four quick shots on net from in close, but Venne was locked in, saving all of them. The Bombers would not score with their best chances yet.

The Bombers kept the pressure up - Carter Anderson fired a shot in close that was deflected by Justin Lies, but Venne got just enough on it to keep it out of the net. In the final moments of the second, the Bombers capitalized on a Mustangs miss and came in with four attackers, feeding the puck to Koen Senft - who hit the post with his shot. Flin Flon put the screws to Melfort late in the second, but the Mustangs would still enter the third up 1-0.

Flin Flon had a scary moment early in the third when Laser-Hume stopped a shot with his head, knocking his mask loose and drawing blood. The goalie stayed in the game.

The Bombers put pressure on the net again, with Cole Tanchuk almost handcuffing Venne from the point, but hitting the post once again. Melfort stuck back in their typical trap play, as the team usually does when defending a lead.

Mathieu Pigeon was sent to the box for the Mustangs for hacking the stick out of Adam McNutt's hands, giving the Bombers a second chance with a man up - and this time, they did not pass it up. Justin Lies fired a bullet of a one-timer past a sprawling Venne, tying the game up with just over 15 minutes left on the clock.

Flin Flon kept the pressure up, with Riley Niven getting a partial breakaway chance but Venne getting the upper hand. Despite that, the Mustangs would get the next one - Aidyn Hutchinson knocked the puck past Laser-Hume in the slot and restored the home team's 2-1 lead, not even a minute after Lies' goal.

Clay Sleeva nearly knocked the puck behind Laser-Hume and in, but the puck rolled out of harm's way and Flin Flon kept pushing late into the third.

The Bombers almost had a prime chance in the second half of the period when Anderson was hauled down on a breakaway, drawing a penalty, but the potential powerplay was taken away when Lies hit his man in the corner hard when chasing after the puck, doing just enough to draw a penalty himself. Instead of a late powerplay, the Bombers would have to settle for a four-on-four period with their captain and goalscorer in the box.

Flin Flon opened up the four-on-four moment with some chances, with Keefe Gruener forcing the issue in close, but it wouldn't work. With the puck going toward the blueline in Melfort zone, Noah Houle couldn't keep the zone, leading to a two-on-one for the Mustangs, where Sleeva came in, ripped one high on Laser-Hume and scored. 3-1 Mustangs, with six minutes left on the clock.

The Bombers would throw everything they had left at Venne and the Mustangs. Melfort's defence was crafty, pinning the puck in the corners and killing the clock when they could. Laser-Hume headed to the Bomber bench with just over two minutes to go, with the squad calling a timeout.

It wouldn't be enough. Hutchinson scored an empty-netter in the final minute to seal it. Melfort would win their fourth SJHL championship, while the Bombers' three-decade long title drought will continue for at least one more year. The Northern Lights Palace filled with the strains of Queen's "We Are The Champions", while for the Bombers, for the third straight season, it was more of a U2 mood - "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For".

Laser-Hume made 26 saves on the night, while Venne got the win with a 29-save performance.

The loss will signal the end of nine Bombers' junior A careers.

Harmon Laser-Hume, the SJHL's goalie of the year, will graduate from the program. Coming to Flin Flon after a stint in Nipawin, the B.C. native played two spectacular seasons in a Bomber sweater.

Three defencemen will graduate. Anthony Bax joined the Bombers from the Dauphin Kings at the trade deadline in January, bringing some sandpaper and occasional big goals with him.

Noah Houle, who came to Flin Flon to join the team his older brother Donavan made such an impact on, left his own legacy, becoming the SJHL's defenceman of the year.

Adam McNutt joined the Bombers earlier this season in a trade and immediately became a key part of the team's defence, asserting himself through the first playoff run he'd had yet in his career.

Matt Egan scraped and battled his way through three long years in maroon and white, braving injuries and a cancer scare this season to continue playing through his final year.

Captain Justin Lies, who led the team in scoring through the regular season and playoffs, tried his hardest to snap his hometown team's long title drought, fighting through muscle cramps each night so badly he could barely skate some games. With the exception of a suspension early in the year, Lies never missed a game.

Riley Niven came to the Bombers after a career in the WHL and became a key depth presence, becoming a clutch player for Flin Flon in the playoffs.

Tyson Smith came to Flin Flon at the roster deadline and grinded away in the corners, taking an injury from the Duguay hit in Game 5 for his trouble and missing what would have been his final junior A game.

Jacob Vockler played each of the last three seasons as a Bomber, becoming a leading forward - and unfortunately, having to end each of his three years shaking the hands of the SJHL champions.

push icon
Be the first to read breaking stories. Enable push notifications on your device. Disable anytime.
No thanks