By Craig Stein
HAWKS & STARS STILL PERFECT IN POST SEASON
While the Flin Flon Bombers and Nipawin Hawks finished the regular season tied at the top of the Sherwood Division with 83 points, the Bombers earned the tie-breaker, due to a dominant 7-1 record in their eight game season series, which ultimately gave them home ice advantage in this Semi-Final series as the two teams hook up after quickly disposing of their Quarter-Final opponents.
The Bombers earned home ice for game one, and they were the one team that seemed to solve Hawks’ goalie Kristian Stead this season. The League MVP and Top Goalie was 1-5, 3.38, .904% in six starts against the Bombers, but Stead continued his recent near-unbeatable form in Game 1 Friday, stopping 37/38 shots as the Hawks edged the Bombers 2-1 on the road. Stead (and the Hawks) is now 5-0 in the playoffs. He has a 1.60 GAA and a .953%. No shutouts yet, but he’s allowed three goals or less in all five games, and two goals or less four times.
The game winner came off the stick of Grant Baetsen with just 2:14 remaining. Baetsen finished with a goal and an assist while Keegan Kjaargard opened the scoring late in the first. Eric Sinclair scored for the Bombers and Zac Robidoux made 40/42 saves.
The clubs will play back to back nights but shift to Nipawin for Game 2 Saturday night.
The Battlefords North Stars, in their first game in a week and a half, also maintained a perfect playoff record, beating the visiting Estevan Bruins 7-4 in the opener of their Best-of-Seven Semi-Final.
The Stars have scored 31 times in their five playoff games, an average of 6.2 per game. Reed Delainey did much of the damage Friday, with a hat trick. Layne Young added three assists, Owen Lamb scored twice, while Coby Downs (1g-1a) and Ryan Rosenberg (1g-1a) added the others. Downs has 11 points (1g-10a) in five playoff games. Taryn Kotchorek made 18/22 saves as the Stars out-shot the Bruins 55-22.
Michael McChesney led the Bruins with two goals and an assist. Jason Miller added his 6th of the playoffs and Isaac Embree also scored. Nathan Alalouf made 48/54 saves.
The two teams stay right where they are for Game 2 Saturday in Battlefords.