The Flin Flon Bombers will be spending a good chunk of the next month plus in Estevan, as the Bombers advanced to the SJHL final with Tuesday night’s 1-0 win over the Humboldt Broncos, beating out the league’s second seed in five games, and moving onto the championship against the first place Estevan Bruins. With that, also comes an automatic berth in the Centennial Cup, which the Bruins are hosting in May.
It was the second 1-0 win for the Bombers in their last three games, meaning goaltender Cal Schell was a massive part of the series win, with a 37-save shutout in the Game 5 clincher. Schell allowed just six goals in the five semi-final games, stopping 171 of the 177 shots he faced for 1.15 GAA and .966%, to go along with his two shutouts.
Much like Game 3 in Flin Flon back on Friday a first period goal was all the offence Schell and the Bombers needed, as Jacob Vockler scored the game’s only goal 14:16 into the game on the powerplay (in game three, Matt Raymond had the only goal of the night at 14:09 of the first period).
Humboldt goalie Rayce Ramsay never allowed more than three goals in a game in the series, in fact he only gave up three once (there was an empty-net goal in Game 1, and the only time he gave up three was in overtime). He allowed two goals twice, and one twice, finishing the series with a 1.75 GAA and a .948 save percentage, despite the 1-4 record as the Broncos’ normally potent scoring attack was held in check.
This will be the Bombers’ third trip to the final in the last five seasons (seasons where finals were actually played), as they lost in back to back championships to Melfort in 2016 and Battlefords in 2017, and had a loaded team poised for a run when the 2020 playoffs were halted due to the start of the pandemic. The Bombers were the only team to advance to the second round that year as they quickly got by Humboldt in the opening round before the season prematurely ended. The last time Flin Flon was in the final before 2016 was 1993, when they captured the title beating Melville in seven games. Estevan lost a seven game series to Nipawin in their last final appearance in 2018. Their last championship came in 1998-1999 when they beat Humboldt, so whichever team captures the trophy this year, it will be their first SJHL title in the 2000’s.
Games 1 & 2 of the SJHL Championship are expected to be next Friday and Saturday, April 22nd and 23rd in Estevan. The Centennial Cup, which will feature both the Bruins and the Bombers, begins on May 20th.