The Flin Flon Bombers used an explosive two minutes in the second period Friday to ruin the Hawks’ home and season opener at the ‘Cage.’
Almost 700 people welcomed the Hawks to the 2023/24 season with high hopes of improving on their seventh place finish a year ago, both clubs slowly worked their way into the game through a scoreless first frame.
The teams found their firepower in the second teaming up for six goals in a crazy couple minutes in the second period. Tyler Stenglein opened the scoring for the visitors in the second, but Nipawin responded with a pair of goals to take a 2-1 lead thanks to Hudson Cameron and captain Maguire Ratzlaff. The lead was short-lived, Stenglein added his second career goal tying the game just 13 seconds after Nipawin moved ahead.
The Bombers added two more in just 1:56 jumping out to a 4-2 lead. The Hawks clawed back to 4-3 in the third period courtesy Evan Forrest, but Matt Egan restored Flin Flon’s two goal lead 1:34 later sealing the win.
“No, definitely not, obviously we were expecting more,” Nipawin Assistant Coach Levi Stuart said after the disappointing loss. “Definitely some rookie nerves out there, a lot of guys playing their first junior games. You can tell there is a bit of a grace period and that’s the same for anybody.”
There was no nerves for Hawks’ netminder Damon Cunningham, the second-year puck stopper shined at camp and started the regular season with a spectacular 44 saves in the loss, Harmon Laser-Hume won making 17 stops, overall, the Bombers fired 49 shots on Nipawin’s net, Stuart was quick to praise Cunningham’s first star performance despite the loss.
“He made some huge saves and bailed us out. We were missing assignments a lot tonight, way more than we can be if we want to be successful. Obviously, Damon did a great job of bailing us out,” he said.
The Bombers were given seven power-plays in the game, including a full two minute 5-on-3 advantage in the third period, the Hawks killed them all, Flin Flon only had a minor, Nipawin couldn’t capitalize on the chance.
Last year Nipawin beat Flin Flon at home on opening weekend while losing at the Mel Hegland Uniplex to the Ice Wolves, the Hawks are in La Ronge Saturday night with a chance to split opening weekend.
“That’s the goal, it’s right back to work tomorrow,, Stuart said. “That’s the best part, after a loss like tonight we get to go do it again and make up for it and play the way we know we can, and will.”
Faceoff is 7:30 p.m., the game will be broadcasted on 750 Beach Radio beginning with the pregame show at 7:15.