Sunday, March 10, 2013

Hawks Even Series, Off To The Flon:

The last time the Nipawin Hawks beat the Flin Flon Bombers in the post season, Tad Kozun was in elementary school and much like the rest of Nipawin, had Hawks fever. This time around, Kozun is a seasoned vet with the team he knows and loves, and he knew it was his turn when he sent shivers of thrill through kids that look up to him just as though he looked up to players like Chad Anderson and Tyrell Frisky back in that 2001 season.

Kozun scored the Game Winning Goal 3:54 in to the 1st Overtime to give the Hawks a 5-4 win which ties the Best of 7 series at a game apiece. Game 3 will be on Monday at the Whitney Forum in Flin Flon.

Carter Coben woke up Saturday morning knowing that if he were to make it in to the line up for Game 2, that he wanted to deliver big checks and set the tone early. It didn't even take 10 minutes in to the opening period for Coben to do exactly that when he rocked Andy Blanke inside the blue line, and then dropped the mitts with Blanke in a fight that both benches enjoyed to watch. Just 50 seconds later though, the Bombers benched seemed to love the fight a little more when Brett Penner got his second of the series on a nice pass from Konrad Litke, whose performance in the series has been notably good for Flin Flon. At 10:09, Arti Kalashnikov, Dustin Skilliter and Garret Lockeridge got away on a smooth flowing rush and Kalashnikov buried his cross ice pass for his 1st of the playoffs. Assists on the goal went to Lockeridge and Grant Jensen, who turned in a solid effort on blue line. 25 seconds later, Brock Hounsell scored his 2nd of the series when a shot squeeked through Davis Jones' 5-hole. with the Bombers up 2-1 after 20 minutes, Nipawin had work to do, also down in the shot department 16-8.

Period number two didn't see much offense, although both goaltenders were tested several times and players showed true playoff composure through shot blocks and solid checks. Eric Bollefer got the puck to Carter Berg near the midway point of the period, who fired a shot which Ben Johnstone found in front of Devin Buffalo to tie the game up. I'm not positive if it was during the middle frame or the 3rd, but Tayler Balog blocked a shot at one point and did not return to the game. For most injuries during the playoffs, I won't be disclosing any of the information, whether the coaches tell me or not. In the Balog case, I am unsure how he is doing but hope it is just a bruise and an ice bath will help get back to 100%. Shots in the 2nd were 12-11 for Nipawin and we were tied up at 2 goals apiece.

During the 2nd intermission Ian Bablitz joined the CK750 broadcast and discussed the Tri Town Thunder season and said that the team was starting to really gel together and they could have used a few more games. He also said he is excited to get back to Nipawin where he can work with Doug Johnson to become a better player. He is going to be a name Hawks fans should get used to, his character and his personality will make him great in the community in future seasons.

In the final frame, sparks started to fly. Garret Lockeridge became the team's top scorer when he put home his 1st of the post season on an assist from Kalashnikov. Brett Penner tied the game at 13:34, just over a minute after Tad Kozun had finished serving a 4 minute high sticking penalty, which resulted in Dylan Balaski getting stitched up back at the room. The penalty kill was again one that the Hawks can use as a prime example of how to kill a penalty 101. Mitch Doell, Brady Zerr, Dustin Skilliter, Eli Lichtenwald; those are just the forwards who worked to the last drop of sweat on the kill with Jones and the defensive corpse. Forgetting about the goal, Benny J put the Hawks back in front by tipping a Carter Berg shot from the point at 17:25. With his 2nd assist of the night, Berg had set the tone for his team physically AND offensively all night, and enjoyed his best game as a Hawk. After Brandt Weldon fired a shot over the net, he got it right back but gave it off to Josh Roach, who for the 15th time from the point scored a goal to tie it up with just 36 seconds left. Nipawin fans went quiet, but the bench remained energetic as all night and all season they have been able to come back from deficits while overcoming hurdles. Shots in the 3rd period as we headed to OT were 45-27, although the Hawks performance did not reflect those totals.

It didn't take long for this game to end, as the Bombers created pressure early Jones watched each and every shot in to his chest. And then, on an offensive zone set it, it had a feeling right from the get go. Wheaton King in the corner, to Berg at the point who unleashed a bomb which hit the cross bar and dropped nearly straight down where Tad Kozun was waiting for it to send the series back to the Flon tied up at 1. Shots were 6-4 in the shortened overtime, which lasted just 3:54. Kozun's first of the series propelled him to the 3 stars for the 2nd night in a row as well.

Kozun took home the First Star honors, while Ben Johnstone and Garret Lockeridge rounded out that list. On the CK750 broadcast, Lockeridge earned an honorable mention call out while Carter Berg was actually the First Star. Doug Johnson had but 4 words for the post game show: "How about Carter Berg."

He had a lot more to say, some of which can be heard on the highlight reel below! Game 3 is Monday night back at the Whitney Forum in Flin Flon beginning at *6:15 SASKATCHEWAN TIME*! The time change makes Flin Flon an hour ahead of us, so I may be bus lagged when I get home on Wednesday. I look forward to seeing all the passionate Hawks fans who make the trip up north, you surely won't be disappointed, Mike Reagan's clubs volunteers make every one feel at home, much like we did ever so well these last couple nights in Nipawin.

6:15 on CK750 and, TUNE IN or be there!

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