Bombers Finish Great Showing on National Stage

Photo Credit: Heather Bolliger/ Hockey Canada Images

By James Brohm

Oakville, ON – The Melfort Mustangs entered Tuesday’s game with hopes of bolstering their chances for top spot in Group B of the preliminary round of the Centennial Cup. The Sioux Lookout Bombers had nothing to lose and were playing for pride only as they had previously been knocked out of contention for a spot in the knockout rounds.

The Bombers weathered an early onslaught from the Mustangs but Jack Osmond was dialed in and was able to keep the game scoreless. For the first time in the tournament, the Bombers struck first. A fearsome forecheck by the newly minted Delaney-Cotter-Riffel line keep the play in the deep Mustangs zone, the puck popped out in front and Riffle banged home his second of the tournament at 8:59. The Bombers continues to play a tight checking game and although Melfort had an advantage in the shots category, a little frustration could be seen. Melfort’s Nolan Roberts took a holding penalty at 19:45. With not much time left on the clock, the Bombers went to work quickly on the powerplay, winning the offensive zone faceoff and put a shot right on netminder, James Venne. It was stopped but on the reset with now 8.7 seconds left, the Bombers got the puck towards the net and in a scrabble Venne lost his positioning. Connor Burke popped the puck in, giving the Bombers a 2-0 lead with 0.1 seconds left on the clock. Shots on net were 15-6 in favour of the Mustangs.

Sioux Lookout came alive in the first five minutes of the second period getting an early advantage in shots. However, Melfort got on the board at 8:42 with a goal from Danton Cox. After some sustained pressure, he pounced on a rebound in front of a sprawling Osmond. Less than a minute later, back in Bombers territory, Aidyn Hutchinsonan made quick pass to Ryan Duguay who went bar down to even the score at two. Alex Lucas restored the Bombers’ lead at 12:27. Picking up a loose puck that came from behind the Melfort goal line and beat Venne on the short side with a great shot. Danton Cox got his second goal of the game, picking up a rebound that went off the crossbar at 13:59. Shots were even in the period with nine each but the Mustangs had pulled even with the Bombers and the score was 3-3.

Melfort took the lead for the first time in the game at 4:27.  Leith Olafson sent a puck up ice, right onto the tape of Ryan Duguay who beat Osmond on the clear breakaway. The Mustangs started to control the game and at the ten minute mark of the third frame had doubled up the shots on the Bombers again, 34-17. At 11:04, Tye Evans added an insurance goal for the Mustangs on a bad angle shot that found a hole between Osmond and the post. Once again with time dwindling and the game still in reach the Bombers pulled out all the stops. They pulled Osmond for the extra attacker. There were some close calls right down to the wire but the Mustangs were able to hold on for a 5-3 victory.

The Bombers’ Centennial Cup run had come to an end but they had been competitive in all four preliminary round games and fought right to the end of regulation each game. It was a great showing by the fledgling team in only their second season and they made Sioux Lookout and the Superior International Junior Hockey League proud.