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Weekend Preview

12/07/2012, 2:15pm CST
By Dave Leaderhouse

Bombers looking for payback when Hawks pay a visit

The Flin Flon Bombers will certainly be looking for a bit of payback when they host the Nipawin Hawks in Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League action on Friday.

The Bombers, who have a six-point cushion atop the North Division standings thanks in large part to a 13-game winning streak at the Whitney Forum to start the season, had that run snapped the last time Nipawin paid a visit. The Hawks, who have points in eight of their last 10 games to remain in third place in the North Division, defeated the Bombers 5-2 two weeks ago. The Bombers and Hawks will complete a home-and-home series this weekend when they meet in Nipawin on Saturday.

Other action on Friday has the Humboldt Broncos looking to rebound from a 4-2 setback in Weyburn on Thursday when they visit the Estevan Bruins, the Melfort Mustangs will be looking to leap past the Battlefords North Stars into fourth place in the North Division standings when they square off at the Northern Lights Palace, the hottest team in the league, the Yorkton Terriers, will try and extend their winning streak to eight games when they host the Kindersley Klippers and the Notre Dame Hounds, losers of just one game in regulation time in November, will be hosting the hottest team out of the North Division, the LaRonge Ice Wolves.

The Ice Wolves, who have won three straight games since making a huge trade with the Melville Millionaires last week that saw 20-year-olds Nathan Boyer and Brennan Ritchie move south while 18-year-old Rhett Kehoe headed north, have two more games in southern Saskatchewan this weekend as they will be in Estevan on Saturday and Weyburn on Sunday. The recent run by the Ice Wolves keeps the Mustangs and North Stars in their sights as they trail those clubs by just three and four points, respectively.

Kindersley, who also recently made a significant trade when they acquired defenseman Austin Yano from Estevan, also has a three-games-in-three nights schedule as they will visit the Millionaires on Saturday before returning to Yorkton for another match on Sunday.

Humboldt will also complete a busy stretch as they will return home after their game in Estevan on Friday to host Melfort on Sunday.

With the league schedule nearing the half-way point there are a lot of interesting races shaping up. Every week the standings can, and likely will, change dramatically as jockeying for playoff positioning takes on a feverous pitch with none of the teams out of the race. In fact, the recent play by LaRonge, Weyburn, Estevan, Kindersley, Melfort and the Battlefords – all of the lower-ranked teams in the first half – has created more excitement for the second half of the schedule.

LaRonge, for example, are presently in the basement of the North Division, but they could find themselves as high as third place by the end of the weekend. The Sherwood Division has a lot more separation between the top three teams and the bottom three, but that could change by the end of the weekend as well. Of course, a lot of things have to occur for those scenarios to unfold, but the possibilities are there and that sets things up for a fantastic finish.

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