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SJHL playoffs tale of the tape: Looking at the Bombers and Bruins

Here's how the Bombers and Bruins shape up, ahead of the start of their first-round playoff series.
Bomber Alexi Sylvestre slides a wrap-around attempt around the Estevan net during a game at the Whitney Forum earlier this year. The Bombers and Bruins will face each other in the first round of this year's SJHL playoffs.

Here's how the Bombers and Bruins shape up, ahead of the start of their first-round playoff series.

The Bombers and Bruins went in two different directions this season. Flin Flon, who finished last season in fifth place with 71 points and a 34-21-2-1 record, improved on their spot in the standings and their record, ending up with 78 points and a 37-15-2-2 record. The team scored fewer goals, but also gave fewer up compared to last season.

Where last year's Bomber team ended the regular season on a low note, going 3-7 with a healthy lineup, this year's Bombers have had opposite luck, going 6-3-0-1 down the stretch despite a long list of injuries to key players. Two of those players will be back in the lineup for the Bombers Friday night - Jaeden Mercier and Jacob Vockler will both take on-ice spots, according to a starting lineup posted to the Bombers' social media channels. Both players were on the ice for Flin Flon's final series against the Bruins last year, including Game 7 - 10 current Bombers were on the ice for that game.

The Bruins, who finished atop the league with 91 points and a 43-10-2-3 record last year, had a post-championship hangover this season, falling to 28-23-3-2 on the year and seeing a 30 point drop in the standings. The Bruins still ended the season with the Viterra division title, playing in a division where only one other team - Weyburn - made the playoffs.

On special teams, the Bombers have the edge with both a man up and a man down, with a higher powerplay percentage (25.5 per cent vs. 18.6 per cent) and better penalty kill (83.1 per cent vs. 79.5 per cent) than Estevan. Estevan, on average, takes more penalties per game than Flin Flon - the Bruins were shorthanded 4.62 times a game this year, compared to the Bombers' 4.13 times a game this year.

The Whitney Forum will play a big role in the series - the Bruins have played, between regular season and playoffs, seven games in the rink since the SJHL came back to full play in fall 2021 and have only one win. The Bruins won against the Bombers 3-2 on Nov. 19, 2021, but have been skunked in all other attempts. In each of the Bruins' last four games in Flin Flon - including in last year's finals - Estevan has been limited to just one goal.

Bruins captain Kade Runke leads the team's attack, leading the team with 54 points in 50 games. The Grunthal, Man. native has played with several linemates this season, but had most often been with fellow 2002-born forward Cody Davis and a revolving door of wingers. According to a lineup shared by the Bruins' social media channels Friday, the duo will start the series with winger Garrett Zasitko.

Since returning to the team midseason from Briercrest College and Seminary, Keagon Little has been a big factor with 19 points in 16 games. Little, Kohner and Runke, along with goalie Cam Hrdlicka and defender Aleksa Babic, are returnees from last season's championship-winning Bruins.

The Bruins' top producers in their games against Flin Flon were Runke, Davis and Mitch Kohner. Both Kohner and Runke scored hat tricks in Estevan's sole win over the Bombers this year, a 8-6 slugfest at Affinity Place Oct. 12. Kohner had seven points, including four goals, against the Bombers, but only put up points in the Bruins' two home games, while Davis had four goals and seven points in total and picked up one assist in the Whitney Forum. The only Bruin who has scored in the Forum this year was Jagjeevan Phangura, who got both the team's goals during a weekend set where the Bombers won 5-1 and 3-1.

Flin Flon has four players who put up points in all four games with the Bruins this season, but some will be unavailable to start the series due to injuries. Cole Duperreault scored at least one goal in all four games, putting up seven goals in total and having 11 points, while Jeremi Tremblay added four goals and seven points of his own. Vockler had eight points, including two goals, in those four games, while Reece Richmond had six assists. All players but Richmond have had injuries down the stretch and missed the Bombers' last nine games of the season.

Out of players who finished the season healthy, Richmond leads the way in scoring, along with Alexi Sylvestre, who had three goals and five points in the two teams' matchups.

No players on the Bruins have university or college commitments announced for next season - one Bruin, defender Alex Blanchard, left the team halfway through this year to join the USports McGill Martlets. Five Bombers have commitments for next year, including four NCAA Division I committed players.


37-15-2-2Regular season record28-23-3-2
3-1-0-0Head-to-head record1-2-1-0
1st in SherwoodDivision finish1st in Viterra
Loss in league final (to EST)Last season resultLeague championship winner
Cole Duperreault (44-37-27-64)Leading scorers (regular season)Kade Runke (50-26-28-54)
Jeremi Tremblay (44-27-28-55)2Aleksa Babic (56-4-38-42)
Zach Cain (53-23-28-51)3Jagjeevan Phangura (49-16-25-41)
Jaeden Mercier (38-12-38-50)4Cody Davis (38-19-16-35)
Reece Richmond (54-3-45-48)5Mitch Kohner (40-15-15-30)
Harmon Laser-Hume (44, 28-11-2-2, 2.57 GAA, .913 SV%)Starting goalieCam Hrdlicka (44, 22-16-0-2, 2.93 GAA, .913 SV%)
Mike ReaganHead coachJason Tatarnic
3.57Goals per game3.34
2.73Goals against per game3.32
Four (Duperreault, Mercier, Tremblay, Vockler)NCAA Division I committed playersNone
Two (Cory King, Rylan Pearce)Major junior playersFour (Kohner, Runke, Salvatore Collora, Ilia Chmelevski)
Eight (Cain, Duperreault, Lucas Fry, King, Ethan Mercer, Mercier, Richmond, Alex Von Sprecken) 2002-born playersSeven (Babic, Davis, Kohner, Owen Miley, Daniel O’Neill, Runke, Robbie Stewart)
honourable mentionCJHL Top 20 ranking (year-end)n/a
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