The Flin Flon Bombers and OCN Blizzard will not face off this pre-season.
During pre-season planning, representatives from the OCN Blizzard chose not to stage the two usual games between the teams, citing issues with the Blizzard’s training camp schedule.
“There were just some scheduling conflicts, as far as I was aware,” said Shawna Hrappstead, marketing coordinator for the OCN Blizzard.
Most preseasons, the Bombers and Blizzard play against each other twice – once at the Whitney Forum and once at the Gordon Lathlin Memorial Centre, the home rink for the Blizzard. The games are the only time the two geographic rivals face off throughout the season, since both sides play in separate leagues.
The Blizzard’s main camp will run from Aug. 31 to Sept. 3. While that is roughly the same timeframe as the Bombers’ camp, Hrappstead said team officials didn’t think they could narrow down a competitive team before the proposed game dates.
“It’s really unfortunate that we didn’t get a chance to play against Flin Flon this year,” she said.
Since the Bombers and the Blizzard are only about 140 kilometers apart, the games mean a low travel cost, a natural rivalry and exciting hockey – not to mention full bleachers and profits for both teams.
“I’m pretty disappointed about it, but it is what it is,” said Bombers head coach and general manager Mike Reagan.
“It makes so much sense for both organizations, as far as revenue goes. It’s the cheapest travel either one of us could ever have, and we get probably the best fans, as far as numbers go. To put a couple thousand dollars in your pocket before the season even starts is a good thing.”
While the games will not be played this season, Hrappstead said the team hopes to reestablish the annual games next year.
“It’s unfortunate, but we’re hoping it’s just a blip for this year and that, hopefully, we can bring it back again for next year,” Hrappstead said.
The Bombers will start their preseason schedule with the annual maroon and white intrasquad game Sept. 2, then a rookie game against the Nipawin Hawks on Sept. 3. Other games against La Ronge, the MJHL’s Swan Valley Stampeders and another date against Nipawin will end the team’s preseason schedule.