The Flin Flon Bombers put the Battlefords Northstars on the brink of elimination last night after a 5-2 loss at the Whitney Forum. Regular season champion North Stars face a must-win situation for the first time this season.
The Bombers were shutout in game three for the first time at home since October and wasted no time getting their home crowd to their feet.
At just 1:04 into the game, Curtis Roach took a point shot which beat goaltender Tyler Fuhr to give the Bombers the early lead. It was an important goal for the team, as their fans were likely waiting for something to cheer about after being blanked in game three.
The North Stars power play has struggled throughout the post season and the Bombers took full advantage by scoring three goals on the man advantage.
The first was an unfortunate break for the Stars as a blocked shot bounced right onto the stick of Rylee Zimmer. He snapped a shot passed a sprawling Fuhr to make it 2-0.
Just before the period came to an end, the Bombers were given a power play on a questionable charging call to Baxter Kanter. Joel Kocur sent a cross-ice pass to Alex Smith who tapped the puck into the open net with 8.8 seconds left in the first period to make it 3-0.
The shots on goal through the first were 24-5 in favour of the Bombers, a poor showing for the 2015-16 North Stars.
If the Stars were looking for a stronger second period, it didn’t start off well. At just 2:40, the Bombers scored again on the power play. Roach’s long shot from the point evaded all traffic in front to make it 4-0.
The goal ended Fuhr’s night as Ryan Rewerts came in to relieve him finishing the night with 20 saves.
The North Stars would finally stop the bleeding when Layne Young took a pass in the slot and beat Robidoux over the glove to make it 4-1.
The Battlesfords’ momentum was short lived as a shorthanded, two-on-one rush had Smith sending the puck to the blocker side of Rewerts for Grayson Reitmeier. Reitmeier knocked home the puck for the Bombers’ second shorthanded goal of the series to make it 5-1 after 40 minutes.
The North Stars tried to cut the lead down late in the period. During a scramble in front, the puck crossed the goal line but was quickly knocked out and the play was blown dead. One official signaled goal before another waved it off a few seconds later.
The Stars cut into the Bombers’ lead halfway through the third period when Igor Leonenko made a nice move in the neutral zone before blowing down the right wing and beating Robidoux under the blocker for his first goal in four games.
Late in the game, the North Stars tried again to cut into the Bombers’ lead. Another scramble in front of Flin Flon’s net led to a Stars goal, but the official lost sight of the puck and blew play dead just before it crossed the line.
The Bombers were unable to hit the empty net in the third, but held on for the 5-2 win and a 3-1 series lead heading into game five at the Civic Centre Saturday, April 9.
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