One point is nice, especially against the league’s best team, but the Flin Flon Bombers came up just short of two Friday night.
A late game-tying goal and an overtime winner kiboshed the Bombers’ hopes for an upset, giving the Battlefords North Stars a 4-3 OT win over Flin Flon.
While the first period featured little offence, the second frame made up for what the first period lacked. A minute into period two, Austin Becker opened the scoring for Battlefords, getting an assist from Flin Flon-born Rylan Nivon.
Then, with Battlefords defender Seth Summers in the box after taking a slashing penalty, Donavan Houle-Villeneuve equalized for the Bombers on the powerplay.
Three minutes later, Summers was sent to the box again – this time for a high sticking penalty. It took less than a minute for Houle and the gang to make the Stars pay again, with Donavan finding the twine with some help from Easton Haygarth and Alec Malo.
The Bombers had a 2-1 lead until late in the second, when Brett Gammer tied things up.
Heading into the third period tied 2-2, both teams seemed evenly matched until, with seven minutes left on the clock, Malo got a puck past Stars goalkeep Adam Dmyterko, giving Flin Flon a late lead. However, the Stars wouldn’t stop. With less than two minutes to go in the third period, Matthias Urbanski tied things up, finding space behind Bomber goalie Matt Sankner.
The two sides would head to 3-on-3 overtime. Less than halfway through the five-minute period, Stars forward Steven Kesslering found a pass from Elijah Loon-Stewardson, then found the back of the Bomber net.
Sankner made 39 stops for the Bombers in a losing effort, while Dmyterko made 28 saves.
The lone point will keep the Bombers on pace in the Sherwood Division points race, although that is heating up dramatically. Every team in the division except the Bombers won their games Friday, with red-hot La Ronge beating Estevan 5-4. Melfort getting a 3-2 win against the Klippers and Nipawin lighting the lamp seven times against Humboldt.
The Bombers, sitting at 7-3-1-0, are third in the Thunderdome that is the Sherwood Division, behind first-place Melfort and second-place Nipawin, with 19 and 18 points respectively. Flin Flon’s 15 points are enough to get the team fourth overall in the league, behind only the Battlefords, Melfort and Nipawin.
Flin Flon will wrap up their road trip Saturday night with a match-up against the lowly Yorkton Terriers. Through 11 games so far, the Terriers have gone 4-7-0-0, most recently getting pumped 7-4 Friday night by their arch-rival Melville Millionaires.
Despite the loss, the Bombers’ top Quebecois forwards have been the creme-de-la-creme of SJHL scoring. Malo and Houle-Villeneuve sit first and second in league scoring with 23 and 21 points respectively through 11 games. Malo has yet to play a game as a Bomber without scoring a point.
Houle-Villeneuve leads the league in goal scoring with 14 tallies in 11 games, including a pair of goals for the Bombers Friday. La Ronge Ice Wolves forward Daylon Mannon is tied with Houle-Villeneuve for second in league scoring but has played two more games.
Not to be left out of the scoring conversation, forward Cole Rafuse sits tied for fifth in league scoring with eye-popping numbers of his own – 18 points in 11 games.
Defenceman Ryder Richmond rejoined the lineup of the Bombers after missing a pair of games with an injury. Jack Michell is still off the ice with an injury. The 18-year-old defender has not played in the regular season so far after being injured in preseason. Forward Tristan Lemyre was also out of the lineup.
Friday’s game marked the debut of new acquisition Ryan Moon for the Bombers. Moon, originally from B.C., was acquired after a flurry of deals last week. Moon was held off the scoresheet, with the exception of a hooking penalty in the third period.
Forward Jonah Henderson has played his last game as a Bomber. The Fairbanks, Alaska forward was dealt to the SIJHL’s Thief River Falls Norskies Friday for a player development fee.
While Sankner has gone 1-1-1 through his first three games as a Bomber netminder, the New Jersey native has been shelled, facing an average of just under 44 shots a game in that timeframe.