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Bombers host annual meeting, stay profitable, plan for next season

The Bombers may not have won the big one this season, but the team is still on solid financial footing. Flin Flon’s junior A hockey club turned a tidy profit last season and saw ticket sales climb.
Kylynn Olafson (right) and his teammates celebrate his goal against Kindersley in Game 2 March 23.

The Bombers may not have won the big one this season, but the team is still on solid financial footing. Flin Flon’s junior A hockey club turned a tidy profit last season and saw ticket sales climb.

According to unaudited financial statements shared publicly at the meeting, the Bombers took in over $1.1 million in revenue last season and spent just over $1 million over the course of the year. That left a net profit of $57,722 for the season.

Through ticket sales alone, the Bombers made a total of $337,803. 50/50 sales were also a major profit generator for the team, with a total of $188,114 in profit coming into the Bombers’ coffers.

The team’s costs included $51,897 in player development fees, though the team made back $27,431 in fees through trading players away, meaning a net spend of $24,466 - about 15 per cent of the $159,604 the team spent on travel, hotels and meals last season and about a quarter of what the team spent on equipment.

A lower-than-expected bill on the team’s bus this year also helped increase profits - the bus typically requires at least one expensive repair per season, but stayed reliable all year long.

“We made $57,722,” said team treasurer Janice Slipp on the team’s 2023/24 season.

“We always appreciate the support we get here from the community - it’s amazing and we could not continue to operate without it.”

Not everything is perfect in Bomberland. Questions were asked at the meeting about possible money-making from online means, including whether or not the Bombers would expand their existing online ticket sale program. Online ticket sales were done last year for season ticket purchases and playoff ticket buys - that system was hard to arrange for the team, but ended up paying dividends.

“The people in this room that battled with that the most can attest that there were a lot of growing pains [rolling out the system],” said team president Travis Rideout.

“We didn’t have ticket sales go down though and online tickets going into the playoffs were huge.”

“Our season ticket base was up as well,” added Slipp.

Another note came from the crowd on operating an online store - the Bombers have not had a permanent online storefront, choosing instead to only sell merchandise through the team’s office on Green Street or through select retail partners. One of the main hangups is who would set the store and how - the team has tried having board members or volunteers organize that with mixed results.

“We’re a volunteer-based organization and lots of different things go into different things when it comes to running this team. An online store is at the top of my priority list - and unfortunately, it got put by the wayside this year,” said Rideout.

Team updates

Questions still linger from the team’s fanbase about how the Bombers went from being heavy favourites for most of the season to losing the league final to division rivals Melfort.

“We know it’s not the end we all wanted. Trust me when I say - this year definitely hurts the most, because this was supposed to be our year. I think the other championships we lost, we were always the underdog so going in we weren’t the favourite - this year, we were the favourite,” said Bomber head coach and general manager Mike Reagan when running down the team’s season in a report to the fans.

“I don’t think it’s one particular thing that cost us the championship this season. For whatever reason, we dug ourselves too big of a hole early on in the series.”

Reagan said he remains proud of the organization, the team and its players despite the loss and is thankful for the community’s support through what was his most difficult defeat in his 16 years behind the team’s bench.

“I know it feels like a broken record, but I am proud of who we are as an organization and where we are in the grand scheme of things. We are in the top five programs in Canada when it comes to junior A hockey. Are we perfect? No, we’re not and I don’t think anyone is,” he said.

“I do apologize that we didn’t get that championship for everybody. It’s tough. It’s something you don’t just turn the page on. When you put the hours and the work into a season that we do, it’s going to sting - and it should sting. That said, we’re very motivated and we’re happy with the recruiting and we’re excited about the guys we’ve signed. I think that we’ve accomplished a lot this year.”

Next year

The Bombers will be down a top talent for next season - Reagan confirmed that forward Alexi Sylvestre, the league’s top scoring player eligible to return for play this season, won’t be returning for this year. Sylvestre earned an NCAA Division I scholarship last season with the Bemidji State Univ. Beavers in Minnesota - he will join the squad for next season.

Despite Sylvestre’s absence, other top returnees will come back for this season. Carter Anderson, who scored 36 goals in just 40 games with the Bombers last season, will come back, as will Kylynn Olafson and Cole Tanchuk, both incoming 20-year-old players who have played for the Bombers in all three of their last league-runner-up seasons. Keefe Gruener, arguably the team’s most important deadline pickup, will come back next season, as will top rookie Koen Senft, Anthony Piccininno, Joey Lies, Reid Arberry and others.

“Cole Tanchuk is going into his fourth year - he’s probably one of the best shutdown defencemen around. I told him he’s going to need to be Leith Olafson from Melfort for this year,” Reagan said, referring to the captain of the Mustangs team that beat Flin Flon in the final.

While some years Reagan writes his starting goalie in pencil on the lineup sheet, this year’s starter is written in permanent marker - the job will go to Kenny Marquart, the Regina native who backed up now-former Bomber goalie Harmon Laser-Hume the last two seasons. Marquart is eligible to play both this season and next for the Bombers - Reagan said the goalie will be up for the task.

“Kenny is getting the opportunity that he finally deserves. He has earned it. I think there’s a lot of upside to Kenny,” said Reagan.

Following last week’s SJHL league meetings, Reagan said several plans are still being made for next season.

“I can’t get into particulars but I can say that the landscape of junior A hockey is going to be changing over the next two or three years,” Reagan said, clarifying that he feels the changes will be positive.

Some changes have been in discussion, including scrapping a controversial rule on players having to wear cages or full-face “fishbowl” visors. Starting last year, all SJHL players born after 2004 would have to wear full facial protection at all times on-ice - that rule was met negatively from the players themselves, despite coming down directly from Hockey Canada. It is unknown whether a change in cage or visor rules will be made in time for next season or how the change will be conducted.

Board elections

A total of seven executive spots were available for applications during the meeting - the team’s vice-president and treasurer spots were both open, as were five spots on the board, where successful applicants will sit for two-year terms. Both Tim Babcock and Jordy Dumenko were nominated for the vice-president spot and accepted the nominations - after a vote of meeting attendees, Dumenko, an outgoing team board member, was elected team vice-president. No such vote was needed to pick the team’s treasurer - Janice Slipp, who has held the spot for the past four seasons, was the only person nominated and she accepted the nomination, keeping that spot for a fifth season.

With three outgoing board members running for reelection to the board, six total people ran for the five open spots. The three outgoing members - Hollee Babcock, Allison Cooper and Rachel Wright - were each reelected and will be joined by new board member Connor Brading and former board member Angela Simpson. Only one candidate who volunteered for the nomination, Barbara Dobson, was not elected.

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