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Bomber Notes: Flin Flon drops down standings after week off, battles Melfort Friday night

The Bombers, who were tops in the SJHL standings last week, have since dropped to fourth following nine days on the shelf.
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Bomber players celebrate a goal during the team's Oct. 16 game against the Melville Millionaires.

The Bombers, who were tops in the SJHL standings last week, have since dropped to fourth following nine days on the shelf. They'll get their first chance to claw the lead back Friday night at home against Melfort.

During the Bombers' idle time, the Humboldt Broncos, Estevan Bruins and Battlefords North Stars have all leaped ahead. Humboldt sits first overall with 30 points in 20 games, while Estevan is second with 27 points in 18 games. Battlefords has control of third spot with 26 points in 20 games, leaving the Bombers in fourth spot with 24 points in 18 games. The Bombers are tied with Melfort, but Melfort has 24 points having played one more game than Flin Flon.

Going by points percentage, the Bombers are third in the league behind Humboldt and Estevan, who both have 75 per cent of all possible points they could receive. The Bombers, due to being two points down on Battlefords but having played two fewer games, would leapfrog the Stars.

The Bombers and Mustangs have played three times already this season, with Melfort winning twice. The home team has won all three of the two teams' games this season and in each case, the winning team has scored at least five times.

Flin Flon will have to keep a close eye on a pair of the Mustangs' leaders - Ben Tkachuk, who has six points in the three games against the Bombers, along with Curtis Hammond, who has scored in all three of those games this season. The Bombers have been paced by Cole Duperreault and Jaxon Martens, who have five and four points against Melfort this year respectively.

The Bombers will face off against Notre Dame at home Saturday night, hoping to avenge the Hounds giving Flin Flon a 4-2 loss during the club's most recent southern road swing. 

Notre Dame boasts two of the league's top scorers in Kevin Anderson (23 points) and Elliot Dutil (20 points), but the offence is top-heavy - no Hounds outside the team's top forward line and defence pairing have hit double-digits in points this season. The line of Dutil-Anderson-Connor Nolan, along with defencemen Jaryd Sych and Sam Kroon, combined for five points in their win over Flin Flon last month.


Scorers and scholarships

College scouts, take note – most of the top players in the SJHL this season are eligible for the NCAA.

As of Nov. 8, only one of the league’s top 10 scorers – second-place Mark Rumsey of the Estevan Bruins – has major junior experience, making him ineligible for the NCAA. All of the other nine players are still able to join the U.S.’ top college hockey circuit. Two of those players already have NCAA Division I deals – those are Notre Dame’s Kevin Anderson, who is slated to join the Princeton Tigers next season, and Humboldt's Connor McGrath, who inked an agreement with the Ferris State Bulldogs earlier this week.

Only three SJHLers - Anderson, McGrath and Flin Flon defender Xavier Lapointe - have NCAA Division I scholarships.

Each of the Bombers’ top four scorers – Jaxon Martens, Cole Duperreault, Jaeden Mercier and Jeremi Tremblay – are eligible for NCAA deals, along with defender Cole Vardy, the league’s top scorer among defencemen. Zak Smith, who has played four seasons in the WHL, is ineligible for NCAA, but still eligible to join a Canadian USports team.


Injuries and recoveries

The Bombers have iced an 11-forward, seven-defence lineup in recent games, sporting three full forward lines and a pair of fourth-line rotating wingers. The team is currently missing three forwards to injuries - Mackenzie Carson and Matt Raymond (who have not played yet this season) and Jaeden Mercier, who was hurt during the team’s most recent southern road swing late last month. Raymond will make his season debut this weekend, while Carson is expected to do the same later this month - Mercier may be on the shelf into December.


Reconciliation fundraiser

The Bombers are also auctioning off the specialty Orange Shirt Day uniforms they wore earlier this season for the team’s National Day of Truth and Reconciliation Day game. The uniforms, which feature an orange base and Indigenous art-inspired striping, will be sold until Nov. 14 to raise money for

The uniforms for sale include all the game-worn sweaters from the game - a 6-4 win over La Ronge on Oct. 2 - and a special number nine sweater featuring the name and number of Bomber legend Reggie Leach, one of professional hockey’s greatest players of Indigenous descent.