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Following season end, Bombers name team award winners

Following a spectacular regular season and a gutwrenching playoff loss, the Bombers handed out their team hardware, honouring several players for their efforts this year.

Following a spectacular regular season and a gutwrenching playoff loss, the Bombers handed out their team hardware, honouring several players for their efforts this year.

The team held a ceremony for family and friends May 4 at the Creighton Community Centre, doling out the squad’s traditional awards as voted on by team staff and players.

Captain Justin Lies walked away with a table full of hardware, receiving both the Bombers’ regular season MVP and playoff MVP awards, the Three Stars award for finishing as the team’s first star more often than any other Bomber, the Pat Spiller Memorial Award as leading goalscorer and the George Leel Memorial Award for most points. Not to be outdone, Joey Lies also brought home a pair of awards - one as the team’s most popular player with fans, then the Frank Schneider Memorial Award for community involvement.

Goaltender Harmon Laser-Hume was named the team’s most dedicated player, receiving the Diane Krokosz Memorial Award, while the Howard Fox Courier Mr. Hustle award went to Anthony Piccininno. Koen Senft received the Lavallee Artworks academic player of the year honour and the Nick Oklobdzija Memorial Award as the Bombers’ rookie of the year.

Noah Houle, the SJHL’s defenceman of the year this season, was named the Bombers’ top defenceman, receiving the Darcy Bancroft Memorial Award - Cole Tanchuk was named the team’s defensive player of the year. Adam McNutt was named the team’s unsung hero this season, while rookie defenceman Pierce Yakimchuk received the nod as the most improved player and the Patty Ginnell Memorial Award.

While Lies got the first of the Three Star awards, a pair of other Bomber stars - Jacob Vockler and Alexi Sylvestre - received the second and third star awards. Matt Egan, who pushed through a cancer diagnosis to continue playing his last junior A season before aging out, received the coaches’ award from head coach Mike Reagan and assistant coaches Cole McCaig and Chris Bortis.

The team also honoured their nine departing 2004-born players - goalie Laser-Hume, defenders Anthony Bax, Houle and McNutt and forwards Egan, Lies, Riley Niven, Tyson Smith and Vockler. All nine were presented with their jerseys and stood together one last time as active Bomber players.

Members of the team, staff and executive board spoke at the ceremony. Wounds were still raw after the team’s unplanned departure from the playoffs, short of the title for the third straight year - despite finishing the season first in the SJHL standings and holding the number one spot in Canada-wide rankings for months, Flin Flon lost to Melfort in six games when it mattered most.

Lies was emotional while giving his final public address to the team as their captain, breaking down into tears at points and tossing away his prepared remarks to speak directly to the crowd.

“It was such a fun year. Everything we did was awesome - everything was so special,” he said.

“Playing in Flin Flon is so special and it’s because of you guys in this room - you’re the people we see each day, the people we live with, the billets, all our greatest supporters. It’s all for you guys and all of us players are so grateful for that.”

Reagan said the ceremony, which took place one day after what could have been a winner-take-all Game 7 at the Whitney Forum had the Bombers won Game 6, was not the one the club had in mind. The goal was to hold a big get-together and celebrate what would have been the Bombers’ first championship in three decades - the hockey gods foiled such plans.

“I know the plan tonight was supposed to be at the Flin Flon Community Hall, celebrating the championship and the entire town could have been there. That obviously isn’t happening, but to put this on at short notice has been tremendous,” said Reagan.

Reagan thanked the team’s fans, board, volunteers, players, billets and his mother Maureen for their work and effort in getting the team through the season. While it ended in tears, Reagan said the season’s end was a bitter one and shared Bomber fans’ frustration, saying it will fuel him and the players to ensure the drought doesn’t continue for another year.

“We love this community and we're doing everything that we can to make you guys proud of us. I truly believe that 98 per cent of our Bomber fans are phenomenal. In saying that, yes, I get it. There’s nobody that's more crushed than me right now about losing a championship. It's been tough days. I get anxiety over it. It's tough to sleep - but I'm not a quitter and I tell my players not to be quitters. We tell our guys never to look in the rearview mirror - we're not going to look in the f***ing rearview mirror right now,” he said.

“When I came back here to coach, we were begging players to come here. We were scraping the bottom of the barrel to find guys who wanted to be Bombers. Now, you’re finding players who are out there wanting to be Bombers.”

In the meantime, the Bombers will move ahead with plans for the 2024-25 season, recruiting a new class of future stars beginning with the team’s spring camp. Three players, including local talents Ryder Mucha and Wyatt Stinton, have committed to join the club for next season - as many as 17 players from this year’s club, including the league’s top scorer eligible to return (Sylvestre) and top goal scorer eligible to return (Carter Anderson) are able to come back for revenge next season.

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