Former Bombers begin WHL season in bubble setups

The Western Hockey League has started their 2021 season and a total of seven former Flin Flon Bombers have joined teams in the league.

Most of the Bomber players are in the league’s eastern division “bubble” in Regina, where the league’s five Saskatchewan-based teams and two Manitoba teams will play their regular seasons. Each team will play all 24 regular season games against only each other at Regina’s Brandt Centre.

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Both of the Ginnell brothers - older brother Brad and younger Riley - have started their WHL seasons, with both players joining the Regina bubble. Brad joined the Moose Jaw Warriors and Riley re-upped with the Brandon Wheat Kings. Brad recorded two assists through his first two games in the Warriors’ black and red, while Riley has yet to register a point in his first two games. The pair played against each other March 12, with Moose Jaw taking a 4-3 win in overtime and Brad notching two assists. In their brief time with the Bombers, Brad scored a goal and added an assist in two games - Riley didn’t get a chance to dress before the Bombers suspended play.

Rylan Thiessen is another Bomber connection to the Wheat Kings - the defender has rejoined the Wheaties for his fourth season of WHL hockey and played in the aforementioned March 12 game, earning an assist. Thiessen also had one assist with the Bombers in two games before the season suspension.

Two other Bomber players have suited up in the Regina bubble with the Saskatoon Blades - defencemen Rhett Rhinehart and Marek Schneider. Rhinehart, who has played two games with the Blades as of March 15, snagged two assists in the team’s March 13 game against Swift Current. Schneider played in both of the team’s games, but has not yet registered a point. Rhinehart had one assist in two Bombers games this year, while Schneider played one game with the team this season, as well as two last season as an affiliated player.

The Swift Current Broncos have their own Bomber ties - forward Cole Nagy attended Bomber camp in the past along with his twin brother Josh, with both players being late cuts from the team. While Josh has since left hockey entirely to pursue college golf in the U.S., Cole is now starting his third major junior season but hasn’t yet scored a point. The Broncos had two other players players last season who had attended camp with the Bombers - defencemen Hendrik de Klerk and Parker Hendren - but neither has started the season with the club.

Outside the WHL’s Regina bubble, the league’s five Alberta-based teams have also begun play, playing a 24-game regular season schedule including travel for weekend home-and-home series. Another Bomber prospect taking his talents to major junior can be found here - forward Ashton Ferster. Ferster has joined the Medicine Hat Tigers and as of March 15, the 6-foot-4 2003-born forward from Shellbrook, Sask. has played six games with the team, tallying no points. Ferster made the Bombers out of camp and played one game, also not getting a point.

One more Bomber in the WHL mix is Flin Flon-born Justin Lies. Lies and his major junior club, the Vancouver Giants, haven’t yet started the season but are slated to start March 26 against the Kamloops Blazers. All B.C.-based WHL teams will be playing in a hybrid bubble model using two host cities - the Giants, for instance, will play 18 games in Kamloops and six in Kelowna. Lies played in the Bombers’ home opener, getting a chance to play for his hometown team on his childhood ice, finishing with no points.

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