#2 Melfort Mustangs vs #6 Flin Flon Bombers – SJHL Canalta Cup Finals
They have finished off the #1 and #3 seeds to get to where they are; now the Flin Flon Bombers face off against the #2 seeded Melfort Mustangs in the Canalta Cup Finals which starts Friday in Melfort at the Northern Lights Palace.
This is the first SJHL Finals for the Bombers since the 1993 Championship Series in which they finished off the Melville Millionaires in seven games to win and eventually move onto the then Centennial Cup in Amherst, NS.
Melfort is coming off an emotional seven game series against rival Nipawin in which they had to hold off the Hawks in the final game for a 5-4 win.
Bombers.ca breaks down the SJHL Semi Final Series between the Bombers and North Stars.
Flin Flon Bombers
6th SJHL (3rd Sherwood Division) 34-20-0-4
Regular Season Playoffs
216 GF, 169 GA 30 GF, 25 GA
Home: 19-7-0-2 Home: 3-1
Road: 15-13-0-2 Road: 5-1
Power Play: 18.0% (9th SJHL) Power Play: 26.3% (3rd SJHL)
Penalty Kill: 84.3% (3rd SJHL) Penalty Kill: 74.4% (8th SJHL)
2nd SJHL (1st Sherwood Division) 39-14-3-2
Regular Season Playoffs
227 GF, 173 GA 41 GF, 31 GA
Home: 25-3-1-0 Home: 6-0
Road: 14-11-2-2 Road: 2-3
Power Play: 18.2% (7th SJHL) Power Play: 19.1% (6th SJHL)
Penalty Kill: 85.4% (1st SJHL) Penalty Kill: 76.5% (6th SJHL)
September 23 – Flin Flon Bombers 1 at Melfort Mustangs 2
November 4 – Melfort Mustangs 3 at Flin Flon Bombers 4
November 5 – Flin Flon Bombers 1 at Melfort Mustangs 2 – SO
January 8 – Melfort Mustangs 5 at Flin Flon Bombers 6
January 9 – Flin Flon Bombers 6 at Melfort Mustangs 3
February 13 – Melfort Mustangs 4 at Flin Flon Bombers 2
It was a tight season series between the Sherwood Division rivals. They each had three wins against each other and each team won one in each other’s barns, a tough task. Melfort had the best home record in the SJHL winning 25 times at the Northern Lights Palace, Flin Flon had 19 at the Whitney Forum.
Four of the six games were decided by one goal with one Melfort win coming in a shootout, back on November 5. The last meeting was a 4-2 win for the Stangs in Flin Flon on the 48 save performance by Melfort goalie Richard Palmer.
Flin Flon held the edge in goals in the season series, 20 – 19.
Alex Smith (Edmonton, AB) leads the way for the Bombers, like the regular season, in points with 13 (4g, 9a) through 10 games with his line mate Brandon Switzer (Brandon, MB) sitting in second with 11 (7g, 4a). Switzer has scored some keys goals in the play offs including a pair in each of the series clinchers against Weyburn and Battlefords. Other line mate Joel Kocur (Edson, AB) has 7 points (1g, 6a).
From there the team has picked up some excellent secondary scoring which was on display in SJHL Semi Final round. Rylee Zimmer (Russell, MB) had three goals in the series against the Stars including a pair in the finale, the tying goal and the double OT winner which was good enough to help him win the Canalta Hotels SJHL Player of the Week this past week.
Tyson Empey (Swift Current, SK) has shown his performance picks in the playoffs. The captain has 6 points (3g, 3a) in 10 games, which is a growing trend for the fourth year vet. He has 13 points (6g, 7a) in 24 playoff games. The team has also picked up points from Greyson Reitmeier (Nakusp, BC) (2g, 4a)
Also much like the regular season, the Mustangs rely heavily on their top line of Travis Mayan, Justin Boyer and Tristan Frei. Mayan and Boyer sit tied atop the SJHL Playoff points with 15 with Frei right behind at 14.
Dakota Boutin and Miles Warkentine are the next forwards on the team in points with 5 apiece.
After being pulled in Game 1 in the opening round against the Weyburn Red Wings, Zac Robidoux returned to the net in Game 4 against the North Stars and seems to have taken the reigns back. He posted a 2.48 goals against average and a save percentage of 0.934 in three appearances in the series.
The backend has been great for the Bombers. Curtis Roach (Saskatoon, SK) has been named the IBAS SJHL Defenseman of the Week for back to back weeks. He sits first in defenseman scoring with 8 points (3g, 5a).
After 45 games in the regular season for 20 year old starter Richard Palmer, he hasn’t appeared in one post season game, getting injured in warm ups of Game 1 in their first round matchup. Taking over is 1997 born rookie Evan Poltnik.
Poltnik appeared in 20 games for the Mustangs in the regular season, posting a 10-5-0-1 record with a goals against average of 2.57 and a save percentage of 0.900. In the playoffs he’s 8-3 with a GAA of 2.71 and a save percentage of 0.908.
Flin Flon has seen Poltnik once this year when he played 19:09 minutes in relief of Palmer, making 7 saves on 9 shots.