The Flin Flon Bombers ended the SJHL regular season on a high note, putting the kibosh on Melfort's season title hopes with a big 3-1 home win.
Nate Hooper opened the scoring five minutes in, giving the Bombers an early lead. Bomber defenceman Calvon Boots made his presence known early with a thunderous check on recently named Player of the Year Carson Albrecht. Albrecht left the game and did not return.
Brandson Hein boosted the Bombers further with a powerplay goal later in the period, giving Flin Flon a two goal cushion after 20.
Melfort iced more or less a full-strength lineup - out of their major regular players, only defender Kayle Tosh was not in the lineup. The Bombers kept some key players off the ice for the last game of the season, including forwards Chrystopher Collin and Ethan Daniels and defender Vaughan Bamford.
The second period came and went with no scoring. Colin Schmidt broke Bomber goalie Gabriel Waked's shutout bid midway through the third with a sneaky goal on the powerplay, but Hooper came back two minutes later with a deflection that got past Melfort goalie Shawn Parkinson.
The Bombers would hang on to win, shutting down any hope of the Mustangs finishing the season in first overall and earning a Sherwood Division title. Melfort would have to win and have a Nipawin loss to finish in top spot. Nipawin made the result of the Bombers-Mustangs game elementary with a 2-1 win over Melville.
Waked made 18 saves in a deceptively busy night in the Flin Flon crease, while Parkinson stopped 34 shots.
The Bombers have ended the SJHL season in seventh place overall and will have to play in a best-of-three play-in series against the Weyburn Red Wings. Weyburn and Melville finished tied in the SJHL's standings with 42 points each, but the Red Wings hold the tiebreaker, having 18 wins this season compared to Melville's 16.
The Red Wings and Bombers go into the first round series with some interesting historical context. Three seasons ago, during the Bombers' run to the SJHL finals, the two teams got into a post-game brawl after a Weyburn player attempted to leave the Whitney Forum with the Bombers' cherished moose leg. Video of the fight went viral, sparking the #DontMessWithTheMooseLeg campaign and energizing the city.
Earlier this year, the two teams had a fight-filled match in Weyburn, complete with goalies Riley Lamb and Pierce Diamond dropping the gloves. Both goalies were traded later in the season. Former Red Wing star Cade Kowalski was also traded to the Bombers earlier this year, one season removed from leading his team in scoring and winning the SJHL Rookie of the Year award.
The Bombers faced the Red Wings four times this year, winning all four games by a combined score of 21-10, and finished the season 30 points ahead of Weyburn in the league standings. Dates of the games have not been released by the league, but the series will likely get started in the coming days.
Due to reseeding, if the Bombers win the series, they will have go straight into a best-of-seven series with the Battlefords North Stars. If Weyburn upsets the Bombers, they would face Nipawin, the newly minted regular season champs, in a seven-game series.