Saturday, March 9, 2013

Bombers Take Game One In Nipawin:

The SJHL Playoffs got underway last night in Nipawin for both the Hawks and the Flin Flon Bombers. Tickets were going fast in Nipawin as the Bombers brought a fan bus that brought a lot of noise to match the already-very loud Nipawin Hawks faithful.

Davis Jones would get the start for the Hawks after finishing the season with a phenomenal .926 save percentage, while Devin Buffalo got the start at the other hand, coming off a .927 save percentage this season.

The Hawks got 2 goals in the opening period, but after exchanging second period goals, the Bombers scored 2 in the final final to win 4-3 and take a 1-0 series lead.

It was a night that started oh so well for the Hawks and with a full house on hand at the Centennial Arena, the Hawks reeled 7 straight shots on Devin Buffalo. Jeff Datoff opened the scoring early in the opening period when he got a pass from Garret Lockeridge. Datoff fired a point shot through traffic and although I had believed Michael Lambert had tipped it in, it sounds like the shot went right through Buffalo to make it 1-0. Eli Lichtenwald used the momentum created from a thunderous Carter Berg on Jason Wark hit at center to walk in and fire a clapper through the legs of Buffalo to put Nipawin up 2. Time of that goal was 9:08. The Hawks had all momentum at that point, it was 2-0 and shots were 8-3 for Nipawin, and then knowing his team needed a boost, Dillon McCombie dropped the mitts with Jesse Bernard right off the faceoff. Both players had a few good throws, but McCombie got the win because of the result of that fight. Shots after 20 minutes, with Nipawin up 2-0, were 11-8 in favor of the Hawks.

Early in the second, with shots at 17-13, the Bombers got a power play when Garret Lockeridge was assessed a minor for interference. In what was arguable one of the best penalty kills of the season for the Hawks, Lichtenwald and Mitch Doell teamed up with everyone else to get the puck down the ice while blocking shots and limiting passes. Once the penalty expired, Brady Zerr got a pass from Arti Kalashnikov but was robbed by Buffalo, and that save proved to be the game changer. Not even a minute later, Brock Hounsell got a pass from McCaig and waited out a sprawling Doell to get a shot off that beat Davis Jones. Despite the goal, Mitch Doell deserved a pat on the back for his efforts on that shift as he showed the meaning of leading by example. Jesse Bernard got the Hawks right back on the board less than a minute later, when Ben Johnstone forced the puck loose to Tayler Balog, who somehow found Bernard in the slot prior to the puck being ripped past Buffalo. The offense wasn't done there, as the Bombers got themselves back within one before the break at 17:53 when Landon Hiebert used his strength to get the puck around Davis Jones in tight. That would be it for the middle frame... Lots of offense, lots of shots; even at 16 apiece.

Both teams went in to the third riding high emotions, after a fire powered period that also featured some big saves and big hits. The first of eight 3rd period penalties came early in the period when Brady Zerr was given a hooking penalty, which the Hawks again killing it off. After the kill, Josh Roach was going end to end and had the puck bounce in his favor and he got a clear shot past Jones to tie the game 5:03. Five more penalties would be called between then and the next goal, and unfortunately for Hawks fans it was a Bomber goal. Brett Penner, who created buzz earlier in the period when he backed away from Tayler Balog(who had dropped the mitts following words between the two from inside the zone to center ice), got the puck inside of the blue line and went bar down to put the Bombers out front for the first time in the game. Final shots would end 39-36 as the Hawks would push late, but Buffalo would do his job in keeping the door shut to put the Bombers up in the series 1 game to none.

The two teams were blanked on the power play, with the Bombers going 0/4 and Nipawin 0/3. Both clubs' penalty killing units looked comfortable and in the 'playoff' zone. Josh Roach picked up the game's Third Star with a goal, while Tad Kozun was Second Star due to his efforts, and Brett Penner was named First Star for his game winning goal and tweet. 781 fans watched the game at the Cage, with everyone invited back tonight for Game Two of the series, which also starts at 7:30.

During the post game show, Assistant Coach Tyson Hobbins said that there were a few mistakes that cost the Hawks, and although the quantity of mistakes was less then that of Flin Flon, the quality of mistakes is what hurt Nipawin. He also credited Tayler Balog for containing his emotions in the 3rd period, and he hopes that Balog can make Penner pay on the scoreboard for the rest of the series. I think it's safe to say that all of Nipawin also shares that hope.

If you can't make it to the rink, Dustin Scafe has the call on CK750 beginning at 7:15 with the pregame show, where he chats with Doug Johnson about the game-to-be and the game-that-was. Don't forget, if you don't have a radio or can't stand the AM buzz, tune in online at!

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