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Bomber Game Report: Regular season ends with 3-2 W over La Ronge

The Bombers wound down the clock on the regular season with a gutsy 3-2 home victory over La Ronge.
Bomber Game Report

The Bombers wound down the clock on the regular season with a gutsy 3-2 home victory over La Ronge.

La Ronge will miss out on playoff home ice advantage and the Bombers will enter the postseason on a winning note after a comeback and third-period battle.

The 56th and final game of both teams' seasons had low stakes for the Bombers - the team was already locked into third in the league standings win or lose, had claimed the Sherwood division title and had clinched at least a tie in the season series against La Ronge, going 3-1-1 through five games. For the Ice Wolves, Saturday's game had serious stakes. While La Ronge knew they would face divisional foes Melfort in the first round, a win over the Bombers would put the Ice Wolves fourth in the standings, giving them home ice over Melfort. A loss would push them to fifth, giving the Mustangs home ice.

Flin Flon was also still playing with a short bench, with six forwards in the press box with injuries, though both Cory King and Alexi Sylvestre were back in the lineup after missing Friday's game with illness. The Bombers would still ice a lopsided lineup of nine forwards, eight defence and a pair of goalies.

The Ice Wolves, building off their win over Flin Flon a night earlier, would draw first blood, with Jacob Visentini taking a stab at a loose puck in close and flipping it just far enough over the goal line to catch the inside of the bar. Moments later, Liam McInnis made it 2-0 Ice Wolves, putting a shot on net that found its way through Harmon Laser-Hume's five-hole.

Flin Flon wouldn't be denied throughout the entire period though - in the dying seconds of the first, the Bombers bore down on the Ice Wolves net. A shot with a few seconds left would be stopped by Dawson Smith, but the puck would squirt loose at the edge of the crease, letting Brent Gulenchyn smack it home with .9 seconds left on the clock. La Ronge's two early goals gave them a one-goal advantage at intermission.

The Bombers came out hot to start the second, having it pay off three minutes in, when Brock Mueller beat Dawson Smith clean to tie the game up. Most of the second period after the goal would be ping-pong hockey, rapid momentum swings and end-to-end play, but the goalies would stand tall, sending the teams into the third tied at two.

Flin Flon got into penalty trouble in the early third, when Alex Von Sprecken took a high-sticking penalty, then nailed Jacob Cossette with a check from behind. Von Sprecken was ejected from the game for the hit - and the Bombers would be behind the eight-ball for four minutes as the Bombers killed off both penalties.

La Ronge put the Bombers through the wringer to start, playing a full two minutes without leaving the Bomber zone. Despite not getting in a line change or clearing the zone for several moments - and despite a few goalmouth fracas that send Laser-Hume sprawling, then losing his stick - Flin Flon kept the puck out of their net.

Not only did the Bombers keep the puck out of their net, they managed one better - they put the puck in their opponents' cage. With about a minute left in the penalty kill, Ice Wolf Trenton Curtis muffed a pass at the Bomber blue line, leading the puck to go toward the La Ronge net. Gulenchyn won a foot race to the puck, beared down on Smith and while his first shot was stopped, the rebound would not be. The Bombers would gain the lead a man down after three minutes of penalty kill.

The Ice Wolves, knowing the stakes for themselves, pushed hard for the remainder of the game, but the Bomber defence and Laser-Hume stood tall. With three minutes to go, Visentini took a high-sticking penalty that forced his team a man down at a pivotal time. While La Ronge killed the penalty off and the Bombers wouldn't be able to take advantage of an empty net, La Ronge would fail to tie the game up by the final horn. Aside from some short skirmishes as the clock ran down, the Bombers would put the Wolves out to pasture, locking them into fifth place.

Laser-Hume shut the game down after the two early goals, making 35 saves. Smith stopped 33 shots.

In the Bombers' last 10 games this season, almost all of which were played with a short bench, the team went 6-3-0-1, with five of those wins coming against playoff opponents.

A storm going through southern Saskatchewan caused a pair of games to be cancelled elsewhere in the league, but all four playoff matchups have been set league-wide. The Bombers will face off against Estevan in the first round and have home-ice advantage. That series will start with Game 1 at the Whitney Forum March 17, with Game 2 a night later March 18 - Games 3 and 4 will be at Estevan's Affinity Place March 21 and 22.

The league-leading Battlefords North Stars will play Weyburn in round one, while Humboldt will face Nipawin. The Mustangs will tangle with the Ice Wolves.

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