By Craig Stein
BOMBERS WIN NINTH STRAIGHT
Flin Flon captain Nate Hooper was front and centre in the Bombers’ stunning third period comeback, as he scored Flin Flon’s third straight goal with just over four minutes remaining to tie it, and finished it off with his second of the night in overtime, as the Bombers won their ninth straight game, 6-5 (OT) over the Battlefords North Stars.
Hooper finished with two goals and an assist, and his linemate Brandson Hein had two goals and a pair of helpers. Ryder Richmond opened the scoring for Flin Flon before the Stars scored four unanswered in the first to take a big lead. Caleb Moretz rounded out the scoring and Jacob Delorme came on in relief and made 26 saves on 28 shots.
Dayton Heino had two goals and an assist for the North Stars (24-12-5-4), all in the first period. Ryan Gil, Austin Shumanski and Braydon Buziak also found the net. The single point for Battlefords moves them into a tie with Kindersley for 5th place overall.
The Bombers (29-13-0-2) remain in fourth place overall but nudged a point closer to Nipawin, now five back for the Sherwood Division and league lead, setting up a big head to head meeting Tuesday night at The Cage.
The Humboldt Broncos have snuck up on the pack in the Global Ag Risk Solutions Division, winning their fourth straight game on Saturday, 4-2 over Notre Dame to sweep that home and home and jump into top spot in their division and second place overall.
Logan Foster, Derek Patter, Michael Clarke and Chase Felgueris did the scoring and Rayce Ramsay made 35/37 saves.
The Broncos (28-16-2-1) have played a league-high 47 games (11 remaining), that’s five more than Kindersley and two more than Battlefords who they lead by two points each.
Zack Kosteniuk had a goal and an assist for the Hounds (19-17-5-4). Jakob Breault also scored and Riley Kohonick made 42 saves. That was Notre Dame’s first regulation loss since December 1st, as they’d gone 10 straight (6-0-3-1) without one before Saturday. They do slip to 9th place in the overall standings with the loss and an Estevan win.
The Nipawin Hawks only gave up one regulation goal in each game in Weyburn and Estevan on the weekend, but weren’t quite able to come away with the four points as they fell 2-1 in a shootout Saturday in Estevan.
It’s a huge win for the Bruins (23-20-2-1), who move back into a tie with Yorkton for top spot in the Viterra Division. With Yorkton off on Saturday, the Terriers now have two games in hand.
Shots were 45-29 Estevan, as Hawks’ goalie Declan Hobbs made 44/45 saves and 2/3 in the shootout. He has a 1.80 GAA, .940%, and a third period goal against keeps him at 10 career shutouts and a league-high five this season.
Grant Boldt made 28/29 saves and 3/3 in the shootout for the Bruins while Turner Ripplinger scored with 11:18 left in regulation to tie the game and added the only shootout goal.
Carson Erhardt opened the scoring for the Hawks (31-12-1-2) 3:37 into the third period. Nipawin leads Flin Flon by five points for the league and division lead.
As murky as the playoff picture continues to be at the top of each division and the top six as a whole, the safest bet out there is that the 10th and final playoff spot will come down to one of the Weyburn Red Wings or Melville Millionaires, and while both have struggled of late, they both won on Saturday to remain in a 10th place deadlock.
Weyburn outlasted the visiting Melfort Mustangs 5-4.
Drew Anderson led the way with two goals and an assist, while William Cruise (1g-1a), Jordan Kazymyra and Tyler Leibl also found the net. Cody Levesque made 37/41 saves for the Red Wings (15-25-4-0).
Defenseman Kayle Tosh had a goal and two assists to lead the Mustangs (26-15-4-0). Colin Schmidt and Parker Fofonoff had them out to a 2-0 lead early on in the first period, and Justin Ball added his 44th of the season. The Mustangs came up empty on their Estevan/Weyburn trip and are now winless in four (0-2-2), and they finish the weekend out of the top six, in seventh spot, one point back of Battlefords and Kindersley.
Melville kept pace with Weyburn, defeating the La Ronge Ice Wolves 5-3.
It was 3-3 after two periods before the Millionaires (14-24-3-3) put it away in the final frame.
Josh Borynec had a four point night with a goal and three assists, while Damian Bentz and Luke Spadafora each had a goal and two assists. Luke Nkwama and Jacob Bourchier added singles and Colby Entz picked up the win, stopping 27/30 shots.
The Ice Wolves (10-34-1-1) never led, but they were able to tie it up three different times, thanks to Antonio Di Paolo, Stewart Pond and Max Kleiner.
The Wings and Millionaires are tied for 10th with 34 points, 12 points up on La Ronge, and 13 behind Notre Dame. They each have 14 games remaining, including two head to head, both in Melville in late February.
The two teams who had Saturday night off, Kindersley and Yorkton, will battle Tuesday in Yorkton as the Klippers kick off a four games in five nights trip, to Yorkton Tuesday, Melville Wednesday, then back to Yorkton Friday, Melville again Saturday. The Klippers had this whole weekend off and will make up some of their games in hand in a hurry this week.