Flin Flon Bombers forward Nate Hooper displays the qualities of a natural leader.
“Nate is one of those guys that people just really respect and gravitate to,” head coach Mike Reagan said. “Nate believes in being a Bomber and wants to bring a championship to Flin Flon.” The 20-year-old from Winnipeg captains the current crop of Bombers. The third year player is pleased to have the opportunity to follow in the footsteps of those who came before him.
“It’s an honour to be the captain of such an historic organization,” Hooper said. “This club has so much history. The culture that the past coaches and past captains of the Flin Flon Bombers have built in the Whitney Forum is a huge responsibility that I am excited to continue. And it’s my responsibility to keep this tradition going in such a successful organization.”
When asked how he feels he best leads the Bombers, Hooper said: “By leading by example, playing my hardest – game in game out. Sacrificing myself for my teammates. Doing whatever it takes to win. My goal is to have younger guys on the team look up to me and inspire them to be better, which will result in us winning more games.”
Hooper certainly knows many of his teammates well. Frequent linemate Brandson Hein and Hooper teamed together in midget AAA action for the Winnipeg Thrashers. There are six players on the Bombers’ roster who list Winnipeg as their hometown. “It’s always great having guys on your team from your hometown,” Hooper said. “We all grew up in the same area so it’s nice to have that chemistry here.” In addition to leadership, the Bombers also count on Hooper for production. Through the Bombers’ first 10 games, the skilled playmaker had three goals and 12 points.
“As a player, he sees the ice very well, makes plays, and plays the game hard in both ends,” Reagan said. “Nate is one of the top players in the league and very coachable. He is very responsible and someone that you trust.”
Hooper has been an important contributor since he arrived in Flin Flon. As a newcomer at 18, Hooper centred high scoring wingers Jason Lavallee and Greyson Reitmeier. He recorded 29 points in 53 games and helped the Bombers make it to the SJHL finals for a second straight season. He won the Nick Oklobdzija Award as the team’s rookie of the year.
Last season Hooper scored 20 goals and accumulated 56 points in 58 games to pace the team in scoring. He received the George Leel Memorial award for most points and earned the second star in the Royal Bank 3 Star awards.
He has certainly given Bomber fans something to cheer about during his career here. In addition, Hooper has embraced the Flin Flon faithful.
“The best part of playing for Flin Flon has to be the fans,” he said. “[There’s] not a better feeling than getting a big win at home in front of your home crowd.”
The Bombers this week
Friday, Oct. 5 in Flin Flon
Kindersley 4, Flin Flon 2
Bombers Scorers: Brandson Hein, Chrystopher Collin
Klippers Scorers: Austin Nault (2), Kyle Bosch, Nate Keeley
Goalies: Pierce Diamond, FF, 26 saves on 29 shots; Justen Close, Kindersley, 42 on 44
Notes: Following a scoreless first period, the Bombers took a 2-1 lead in the second. The Klippers scored three times, including an empty-net goal, in the third period to slip away with the victory. Flin Flon was 1-for-6 on the power play. The Kippers were 0-for-3 with the man advantage.
Saturday, Oct. 6 in Flin Flon
Kindersley 2, Flin Flon 1 SO
Bombers Scorer: Chrystopher Collin
Klippers Scorer: Clay Keeley
Goalies: Pierce Diamond, FF, 26 saves on 27 shots; Justen Close, Kindersley, 27 on 28
Notes: Flin Flon’s two shooters were unable to score in the shootout. Devon Cyr and Caden Benson both scored for the Klippers. Kindersley scored in the second period, while Collin tied things up in the third. Both goals in the game came on the power play.
Chrystopher Collin scored in both of the Flin Flon Bombers’ games on the weekend. He has points in each of his last three games. On the season, the Montreal product has five points in nine games.
Odds ’n’ Ends
Flin Flon picked up a point in its home series against Kindersley. Head coach Mike Reagan said the Klippers played textbook road hockey and found a way to win. … The Bombers, 5-4-0-1 on the season, hits the road for four games in five days this week. Things start in Humboldt where they take on the Broncos, who are 7-3-1-0, on Wednesday. The next night the Flin Flon team plays the Notre Dame Hounds in Wilcox. On Saturday, the Bombers are in Weyburn before concluding the trip in Estevan. … After the trip, the Bombers play their next four games at the Whitney Forum. … Brandson Hein was the Tan FX Bomber of the Month for September. He had nine goals and eight assists in eight games.
“I thought at times we played really well and, at times, we had mental lapses that they capitalized on. Kindersley has a solid team that competes hard.”
– Head coach Mike Reagan