The Bombers threw everything but the kitchen sink at the Battlefords North Stars Friday night, but the top team in the country stood tall, beating Flin Flon 5-2.
Flin Flon and Battlefords took the game to the Saskcan Community Centre in Wilkie, instead of playing at their normal destination of North Battleford's Access Communications Centre, the Stars' normal home - a broken chiller at the Access caused both the teams' Friday and Saturday afternoon games to be moved, sending the squads about a half hour down the road.
Both defences held firm to start the game, but it was the Stars who opened the scoring late in the first. Kian Bell put home his 18th goal of the season with three minutes to go, putting the kinda-sorta hosts up one going into the intermission.
The Stars started to pull away early in the second, picking up goals from Emmett Wurst and Jackson Allan to make it 3-0 Battlefords. From there, the game was the Josh Kotai show - the Bombers pelted the Stars' keeper with shots, but except for a Jaeden Mercier powerplay goal for the Bombers late in the second, the goalie would stand mostly tall. Battlefords led 3-1 going into the final fram.
Keiton Klein extended the lead halfway through the third period and while the Bombers' Wyatt Cook brought the Bombers back within two, Evan Waldie put it back out of reach with five minutes to go, sending the Bombers out of Wilkie with a tough loss.
Kotai faced an incredible 60 shots on the night in the Stars' net, making almost a save every minute on average, stopping 58 shots. Harmon Laser-Hume, in net for the Bombers Friday, made 33 saves and was handed the L.
The Bombers have dropped from second to joint third in the SJHL standings in only a couple of days, pushed down from a surging La Ronge team who beat Weyburn Friday night and by Humboldt, who are now tied with the Bombers with 30 points.
The Ice Wolves now sit second in the league and atop the Sherwood division with 31 points in 23 games, but have played two more games than the Bombers have. By points percentage, the Bombers and Broncos remain tied for second in the league.
The Bombers and Stars will renew their hostilities Saturday afternoon at Battleford Arena, located across the North Saskatchewan River from their typical home at the Access in North Battleford. Puck drop will be at 3 p.m. local time. After that, the Bombers will head back across Saskatchewan to Humboldt, where they will play against their standings stalemates, the Broncos, in a Sunday night showdown.