Sunday, March 17, 2013

Hawks Season Ends After Game 6 Loss:

In the final trip to the Whitney Forum this season, the Nipawin Hawks wanted to make sure the Flin Flon Bombers had one last trip to the Cage as well. Unfortunately, the Bombers gave over 1300 fans a great start to their St. Patties Day by shutting out the Hawks 4-0 to eliminate them from the Best of 7 North Division Semi-Final.

Devin Buffalo made 41 stops, and although he looked to battle the puck, the Hawks were unable to get by the strong net presence of the Bomber defense to bang home the rebounds. Buffalo made several sure-goal saves, and as the series went on he got better each night. Davis Jones was great for the Hawks, making a few glove saves that were shot hard and with perfect placement. Jones finished with 32 saves on the night, and earned Doug Johnson's praise as a goaltender who have a great summer before heading to Alaska-Fairbanks and finding continued success there.

In the opening period, Andy Blanke beat Davis Jones midway through with a 5-hole backhound, on a setup from Jason Wark and Brandt Weldon. Brock Hounsell and Dustin Skilliter dropped the mitts shortly after the goal, after Skilliter had believed Tad Kozun was hit from behind and went to his teammates aid. Then, with just over 4 minutes to go, the Hawks received a shot in the arm when Tayler Balog's goal was waved off after the net came off moments after the puck crossed the line. (why Flin Flon doesn't use drill in posts in beyond me, Buffalo knew what he was doing, 3 GAA in series off the post) The Hawks kept their heads high after that though, finishing in front on the shot clock at 15-11 but trailing 1-0 on the scoreboard.

Early in the 2nd, the Hawks had a great chance to develop an odd man rush but the Bombers turned in back in and started to gain momentum from that. Then, 8:30 in, Dylan Balaski put the Bombers up by a couple when Riley Storuzk's shot was deflected forward to the stick of Balaski who put the puck in the net. The other assist went to Dallen Hall. Neither team picked up a man advantage in the middle frame, but the Bombers did make it 3-0 when Jason Wark beat Jones from Andy Blanke and Brett Boehm at 17:17. Final shots in the 2nd ended up being 15-14, as the Hawks struggles in the middle frame continued, trailing 3-0.

In to the final period, the Hawks knew what they needed to do but the Bombers played a hard to beat style that usually succeeds in protecting wins, and it did just that on this night. Shots were 8-2 at one points in the period in favor of the Bombers, but the Hawks did eventually find some shooting lanes but Buffalo stood tall. There was one big block in the dying minutes that really gave the final nail in the coffin, and then the Bombers started to retake momentum. With just 6 seconds left, Jason Wark would score in tight and emotions started to let loose. Before the puck dropped, Eric Bollefer and Tayler Balog were sent to the room after having very spirited games that you could feel their passion in the stands. The final buzzer would go on the Hawks season and on a 4-0 Bombers win, as they advanced to face the Humboldt Broncos in the North Division Final, beginning late this week in Humboldt.

It was so hard to see the group of guys in that dressing room take their bags to the bus one last time, but at least in the final game in was their best of series, as they outshot the Bombers 41-36. This was not a series that can be easily summed up in a few words, but rather it just such an emotional series that both teams really struggled to find their true identity. I would like to wish the best of luck to Jason Wark, Andy Blanke and the Bombers in the Conference Final. I had the chance to chat with those two players, class acts all the way.

Speaking of class acts, that brings us to the final chapter on 8 players Junior careers, as the Hawks graduate four defense, a goalie and three forwards. I would like to personally thank Carter Berg, Jeff Datoff, Brady Zerr, Wheaton King, Eli Lichtenwald, Grant Jensen, Jesse Williamson and Davis Jones for all of the great memories they gave me on the bus, behind the mic, and at the rink. All 8 of those men will achieve great things in life and hopefully, in hockey as well. Eli and Davis will both attend NCAA Institutions in the fall, with Lichtenwald off to Union and Jones to Alaska-Fairbanks. I'm sure there will be more of those guys suiting up for a College/University team in the future.

Of the players eligible to return, there are ten 1993 born players, six 1994 born skaters and one 1995 born in Dexter Bricker. Of those 1993's, only seven will be able to return as the overage rule reduces for the 2013/2014 season. I had alot of fun with the younger players and the rookies this season, and I'm sure they will also go on to have great careers in Hockey and in whatever they choose to do. I look forward to seeing those guys excel as Hawks for years to come.

Beneath the roster for next season is some audio clips of the game, and of Doug Johnson's post game comments. I will have a Best of 2012/2013 Highlite Reel up sometime during the week.

Make sure you tune in to CK750 and 105CJVR Thursdsay at 4:10 for the last Hawkey Talk of the year!

Here is what next year's team could look like:

FORWARD

#7- Mitch Doell(93)
#11- Jesse Bernard(93)
#12- Dexter Bricker(95)
#13- Garret Lockeridge(94)
#14- Artsiom Kalashnikov(93)
#18- Carter Coben(94)
#22- Ben Johnstone(93)
#24- Michael Lambert(93)
#47- Dustin Skilliter(93)
#71- Tayler Balog(94)
#92- Carter Danczak(94)
#93- Tad Kozun(93)

DEFENSE

#4- Ian Bablitz(94)
#23- Ben Petros(93)
#28- Jesse Roden(94)
#51- Eric Bollefer(93)

GOALIE

#37- Jordan Liem(93)





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