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Five former Bombers commit for college, university hockey

Five more graduating players from this year’s Flin Flon Bombers will continue playing university hockey next season, bringing the team’s total of advancing players to eight.
The Flin Flon Bombers hoist their sticks and salute the crowd during their home opener at the Whitney Forum Sept. 23.

Five more graduating players from this year’s Flin Flon Bombers will continue playing university hockey next season, bringing the team’s total of advancing players to eight.

The first post-secondary deal announced after the playoffs was for forward Jacob Vockler. Vockler will head to what is rapidly becoming Flin Flon south - Lindenwood University, where he will join a slew of former teammates on the Lindenwood Lions.

Vockler’s commitment was officially announced May 8, though confirmation of the deal was first announced at the team’s awards night May 4.

Vockler played three seasons in maroon and white, playing 145 regular season games and putting up 155 points, including over a hundred assists. The Sioux Falls, S.D. native also performed well in playoffs, scoring 44 points in 45 post-season games, including 17 points in 12 games this year, good enough for second in team scoring.

Most players in the SJHL don’t get one NCAA Division I offer, but Vockler was able to get greedy - he got two, decommitting earlier this season from the Merrimack Warriors program he committed to last year and playing the market once more.

Vockler will be playing with a ton of former friends and foes. No fewer than four ex-Bombers are slated to play for Lindenwood this season, including forwards Drew Kuzma and Jaeden Mercier and defender Noah Houle, who committed earlier this season. Aiden Yakimchuk, the older brother of current Bomber defender Pierce Yakimchuk, is also a member of the Lions, serving as the team’s captain for the last two years.

Some former SJHL rivals also played for the Lions this year, both of whom were eliminated in playoffs by Vockler and the Bombers at least once - former Humboldt Broncos captain Ethan Zielke and former Battlefords North Stars captain Jake Southgate, who got his own revenge by beating the Bombers for the Canterra Seeds Cup in 2023.


Two to Mount Royal

Two other Bombers will be heading west to play in the USports ranks, Canada’s top interuniversity league. The Mount Royal Cougars will pick up both the Bombers’ outgoing captain and starting goalie, signing Justin Lies and Harmon Laser-Hume for next season.

The Bombers announced Laser-Hume’s commitment first on May 11. The two-year starter led almost every statistical category a goalie can lead in within the SJHL this year, sporting a .930 save percentage, a 2.20 goals-against-average and a 28-6-0 record with three shutouts over the regular season. Laser-Hume was named the SJHL’s goalie of the year and was nominated for the CJHL’s national goalie of the year honour.

Lies’ commitment was next up, being announced May 14. Lies came to his hometown of Flin Flon after four years in the WHL with Vancouver and Saskatoon, donned the captain’s “C” and made an immediate and lasting impact. Playing his final junior season in his hometown rink with brother Joey alongside, Lies led the Bombers in scoring with 41 goals and 76 points in 55 games. In the playoffs, Lies was the straw that stirred the Bombers’ drink, finishing the playoffs with a goal in all but one game and leading the team in goals and points, getting 14 goals and 19 points in 14 games.

The Cougars already have a Bomber on their roster - former forward Jaxon Martens, who played parts of three seasons before being dealt to Melville at the 2023 deadline.



The team announced May 22 that graduating defenceman Adam McNutt would be heading to Regina for next season, joining up with the Univ. of Regina Cougars’ USports hockey team.

McNutt came to the Bombers this season after three seasons in the WHL, playing with Prince Albert, Regina and Swift Current. After being released by Swift Current, McNutt’s rights were traded from La Ronge to Flin Flon in a blockbuster five-for-one trade in October, bringing him to the Bombers.

In Flin Flon, McNutt became a valued defensive veteran presence, playing occasional time on the team’s powerplay and penalty kill. One of the Bombers’ three 2003-born defenders, McNutt ended the regular season with 17 points in 41 games. Following that came McNutt’s first-ever taste of playoff junior hockey, having never played a game of postseason puck in his time in the WHL - in the playoffs, McNutt kept his standard of play high, scoring three goals and tallying six points in 14 games.

McNutt joins a long list of WHL and SJHL alumni on the Cougars, including former rival Chase Friedt-Mohr of the Melfort Mustangs, who committed to the program earlier this year.



Another commitment was announced by the club May 26, with another 2003-born Bomber D-man, Anthony Bax, joining the Utica University Pioneers in the NCAA Division III ranks this season.

Bax came to Flin Flon at the roster deadline following a whirlwind junior career that took him through six teams in five seasons, mostly notably with the Dauphin Kings, where Bax was a defenceman of the year favourite when the Bombers dealt for his rights Jan. 10. After moving north, Bax had nine points in 19 regular season games, then added another eight points in 14 postseason games.

The Parkhill, Ont. native will join a team that finished first in the United Collegiate Hockey Conference (UCHC), a nine-team loop that covers teams in New York, Maryland and Pennsylvania. That loop includes the Stevenson University Mustangs, which were the team of former Bomber Zach Bannister before he graduated to the minor pro ranks this year. Last season, Utica finished with a 23-3-2 record and beat Stevenson to earn the conference championship. From there, the Pioneers made it to the Division III national semifinals, being eliminated by eventual national champs Hobart College.

“Bax has a little bit of everything in his game. He’s got good length and an offensive flair. The kid screams character. We are excited to welcome him to Utica,” said Pioneers head coach Gary Heenan.

Eight players from this year’s Bomber squad have committed to play university or college hockey in the future, with three committed to NCAA Division I programs. Alexi Sylvestre will play with the Bemidji State Beavers, while Matt Egan will go the NCAA Division III route, playing with the State University of New York (SUNY)-Fredonia Blue Devils.

Only two graduating Bomber players - forwards Riley Niven and Tyson Smith - do not currently have announced commitments for next season. Last year, every graduating player from the 2022-23 Bombers received an offer to play post-secondary hockey.

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