Things could have gone better.
The Bombers ate a tough 6-2 loss on home ice in Game 3 Friday. The team is now one loss away from losing their second straight SJHL final.
Flin Flon came out of the gate hot, starting the night with a few moments of sustained pressure, but it would be the Battlefords getting on the board first, less than three minutes in. A shot from defender Tynan Ewart would take a bounce on its way to the net and flutter over Harmon Laser-Hume, giving the Stars an early lead.
Back on the other side, Zach Cain would put in work on the Bomber side, taking a couple quick shots and laying out an opponent with a big hit. Sadly for Cain, he'd also take a puck in the mouth after a bad bounce in a scramble in front, sending him to the locker room for repairs.
With Cain in the dressing room, the Stars struck again. A shot by Ewart from the sideboards found Keiton Klein wide open at the side of the net, with Klein tipping it past Laser-Hume to extend the lead.
Down two goals, the Bombers got sloppy, stumbling on zone entries and missing passes - the Stars defence held tight on the home team and gave Flin Flon no space to move.
That high-pressure style paid off again for the Stars late in the period, with Kian Bell left open near the net and sliding the puck past Laser-Hume to make it 3-0.
The Bombers would break through in the first, but it would take until literally the very last second. With the clock ticking down, a Flin Flon point shot would be deflected by Alexi Sylvestre through the legs of Josh Kotai, making it 3-1 with less than one second left on the clock.
The referees would confer about whether or not the goal went in before the final horn, even leaving the ice surface to speak directly with the goal judge, but would eventually confirm the goal was good. Flin Flon headed into the second period down 3-1, but with momentum.
That momentum would fall quickly in the second though. Like the first, the Bombers opened with speed and had early chances, but one play off a Stars counterattack cost Flin Flon. On the Stars' first chance of the period, Jordan Gibbs entered the zone on a breakaway, beat Laser-Hume and restored Battlefords' three-goal lead.
Barely a minute later, the Stars added another goal. Steven Kesslering took a high shot on Laser-Hume that found the twine, making it 5-1 Stars and chasing the Bomber starter from the net. Laser-Hume has had a stellar run this playoffs, but the goalie's night ended early after giving up five goals on 18 shots through just 24:42 of ice time.
Flin Flon showed some signs of life throughout the period, with Sylvestre coming within inches of getting his second of the night, but the puck would bounce wide.
Finally, with 7:19 left on the clock, Alex Von Sprecken would finally break through, getting a shot off through traffic that went past Kotai. The goal brought Flin Flon back within three, but that would also not last - Kesslering went bar-down from 45 feet out on Bomber backup Kenny Marquart, putting the score at 6-2 - where it would stay both for the second intermission and at the end of the game. Cain came back up late in the second, bearing stitches and wearing a cage, but even he couldn't keep Flin Flon from a loss.
Little of note happened in the third, sans a fight between Von Sprecken and Colby Bear which ended with a Von Sprecken takedown and an extra coup-de-grace punch after Bear hit the ice. The Stars would put up another 17 shots, but Marquart stood tall in garbage time, keeping the final score respectable.
Kotai got the win, making 31 saves to do it. Laser-Hume stopped 13 shots during his stint and was stuck with the loss - Marquart made 28 stops in relief.
The Bombers are now in the unenviable position of having no more games left to lose. The Stars are up 3-0 in the series, with Game 4 going at the Whitney Forum Saturday night. If the Bombers are to win the team's first championship in 30 years, they will have to win each of the teams' next four games - at home Saturday, in North Battleford April 25, back at home April 29 and on enemy ice May 3.