Bombers clinch division champs banner, fall to Bruins 5-4 in OT

It wasn't a win, but the end result was just as good as one. With an overtime loss in Friday's game against Estevan, the Bombers clinched sole possession of the Sherwood division title.

The Bombers, having lost 5-4 after coming back from 4-1 down late in the third, now have 76 points on the season with four games to go. While the only team remaining in the Sherwood who could contend for the title before Friday, Melfort, won their game, the maximum amount of points the 'Stangs can end the season with is 75 – one fewer than what the Bombers now have.

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Flin Flon also clinched second spot overall in the SJHL, having achieved more than the maximum amount of points third-place Yorkton can end the season with – 75.

Hayden Clayton opened up the scoring for Flin Flon early in the first, but the Bombers had an abysmal second period, giving up four goals in 12 minutes of game time. Erik Boers tied things up early in the period, then Tanner Manz got the Bruins the lead seconds later. Isaiah Thomas scored on a pair of quick wristers in the mid-2nd, giving Estevan a 4-1 lead through 40.

The Bombers woke up from their 30-minute nap halfway through the third, with Donavan Houle-Villeneuve finding the twine past Bruins 'tender Randy Cooke. Matt Raymond scored one through traffic moments later, cutting the lead to one.

Then, Flin Flon got crafty. Rookie defenceman Cole Vardy intentionally missed the net on a point shot, sending the puck careening into the slot. Cole Rafuse found it in a crowd and roofed it, tying things up with 2:30 left on the clock.

The two sides switched off chances in the OT period, with possession around equal. The Bombers fell victim to bad luck, with a quick stretch pass from the Bruins catching defenceman Troy Quinn while he went for a line change. With some time to work with, Thomas found the net for the third time on the night, giving Estevan a win and himself a hat trick. Scratched Bruins players celebrated by throwing their hats on the ensuing celebration from the press box.

Cal Schell took his first L as an SJHL goalie, making 26 saves. Cooke earned a win with 34 saves.

With the win, Estevan clinched a playoff spot of their own and jumped past the Humboldt Broncos for seventh in the league. If current points standings and point percentages hold up, the Bombers and Bruins are very likely to face each other in the first round of this year's SJHL playoffs.

Flin Flon has three more games left to play. Their next matchup is at the Whitney Forum Saturday night against the Notre Dame Hounds.

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