The Flin Flon Bombers will host Games 3 and 4 of the SJHL final series Friday and Saturday night at the Whitney Forum. The maroon and white are down 2-0 in the series so far. Here's what you need to know.
Through the opening two games, the Stars have outscored the Bombers 8-2, with Flin Flon suffering its third shutout loss of the season and second of the playoffs in Game 2. Battlefords pulled out a 5-2 win in Game 1, then followed that with a 3-0 win in Game 2. The Stars now have a 10-game winning streak, dating back to their first-round win over Weyburn - the Wings won Game 1, but the Stars have gone undefeated since.
The Bombers will hope to have a return similar to that from last year's SJHL finals - while Flin Flon lost the first two games of last year's series with Estevan, including a Game 2 shutout loss, the team came back with two clutch wins in front of capacity crowds at the Whitney Forum to tie the series - first a 4-3 Game 3 win, then a commanding 7-1 victory in Game 4.
For Game 3, the Stars have had to make their first lineup change of the series, swapping out Wilson Steele for defenceman Easton Rask. The Bombers have also made a change, taking Liam Bridger out and replacing him with the returning-from-injury Matt Egan. Both Steele and Bridger have been suspended for Game 3 following a fight in the final stages of Game 2 last weekend.
Aside from moving out Steele, the Stars have made no major lineup changes during the series. Josh Kotai will still start in net and the Stars' big line of Kian Bell, Holden Doell and Jake Southgate will stay together, as will the Stars' other three forward lines.
The Bombers have not had the fortune of having a full-strength lineup, unlike the Stars. The team will be down captain Lucas Fry, the team's reigning defensive player of the year and last week's SJHL defenceman of the week, after he was gashed on the arm with a skate during a scary incident in Game 1. Aiden Chow will fill the captain's spot on the defence.
Egan will return to the lineup following a layoff with injury, filling in for the suspended Bridger. Egan has only played one game for the Bombers since Feb. 18 - a game played against Battlefords - when he suffered an injury. Egan came back for Game 3 against Humboldt, but was injured again during that game.
Out of the Stars' eight goals scored through two games, the big line of Bell, Doell and Southgate have scored three times. The Battlefords' depth has been responsible for the most offence - Colby Bear scored twice in Game 2 and added an assist, Kieton Klein has three points and Steven Kesslering and Tynan Ewart have two points apiece.
One of the Bombers' biggest issues has been powerplay production. During the regular season, the Bombers had the league's second-best powerplay, scoring more than a quarter of the time with an extra man. Lately though, the powerplay has fallen apart.
The Bombers have missed out on each of their last 25 powerplays, dating back to Game 3 of their second-round series with Humboldt. That includes eight chances in the first two games against the Stars, which all turned up nothing. The Bombers have actually been more dangerous shorthanded during that five-game stretch, with Kylynn Olafson’s Game 1 shorthanded goal being the team’s only offence to speak of on special teams.
|FLIN FLON BOMBERS||Team||BATTLEFORDS NORTH STARS|
|37-15-2-2||Regular season record||48-5-2-1|
|1-2-1-0||Head-to-head record (regular season)||3-1-0-0|
|Sherwood||Division||Global Ag Risk Solutions|
|1st in Sherwood||Division finish||1st in Global Ag Risk Solutions|
|Loss in final (to EST)||Last season result||Loss in first round (to FF)|
|Beat Humboldt in five games||Last series result||Beat Melfort in four games|
|Cole Duperreault (44-37-27-64)||Leading scorers (regular season)||Kian Bell (51-54-48-102)|
|Jeremi Tremblay (44-27-28-55)||2||Holden Doell (49-33-67-100)|
|Zach Cain (53-23-28-51)||3||Jake Southgate (54-25-57-82)|
|Jaeden Mercier (38-12-38-50)||4||Steven Kesslering (54-40-29-69)|
|Reece Richmond (54-3-45-48)||5||Tynan Ewart (55-8-48-56)|
|Alexi Sylvestre (14-5-6-11)||Leading scorers (playoffs)||Southgate (11-6-15-21)|
|Jacob Vockler (13-4-6-10)||2||Bell (11-14-6-20)|
|Richmond (14-0-10-10)||3||Doell (11-4-14-18)|
|Ethan Mercer (14-7-1-8)||4||Kesslering (11-10-4-14)|
|Duperreault (9-4-3-7)||5||Ewart (11-1-10-11)|
|Harmon Laser-Hume (44 GP, 28-11-2-2, 2.57 GAA, .913 SV% regular season, 14 GP, 8-4-2, 1.99 GAA, .938 SV% playoffs)||Starting goalie||Josh Kotai (39 GP, 32-4-2-1, 2.39 GAA, .935 SV% regular season, 11 GP, 10-1-0, 1.49 GAA, .949 SV% playoffs)|
|Mike Reagan||Head coach||Brayden Klimosko|
|3.57||Goals per game||5.07|
|2.73||Goals against per game||2.46|
|2.5||Goals per game (playoffs)||4.45|
|2.29||Goals against per game (playoffs)||1.55|
|Four (Duperreault, Mercier, Tremblay, Vockler)||NCAA Division I committed players||Three (Doell, Kotai, Southgate)|
|Eight (Cain, Duperreault, Lucas Fry, King, Ethan Mercer, Mercier, Richmond, Alex Von Sprecken)||2002-born players||Seven (Ewart, Kesslering, Keiton Klein, Zane Florence, Southgate, Wilson Steele, Emmett Wurst)|
|Two (Cory King, Rylan Pearce)||Major junior players||Three (Bell, Justen Maric, Evan Waldie)|
|honourable mention||CJHL Top 20 ranking (year-end)||2nd|