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Bombers/Stars Preview

 

 

The SJHL Quarter Final series will begin tonight between the Flin Flon Bombers and Battleford Stars at the North Battleford Civic Centre.

 

This will be the third playoff meeting in the last four years and first since the Stars swept the Bombers in the league final two years ago.

 

This is the fifth meeting all time with the Stars holding a 3-2 series edge.  Battleford has taken 12 out of the 20 head to head playoff games.

 

Flin Flon has the edge in the four matchups this year taking 3 out of the 4 meetings  including that dramatic come from behind over time win back on January the 26th.

 

Both teams are on a roll with the Bombers making quick work of the Weyburn Red Wings in the SJHL Wild Card series,taking both games by scores of 6-3 and 7-2.

 

Battleford went unbeaten in their last 10 regular season games including an OT win over Kindersley on the last day of the SJHL regular season to clinch first in the division and second overall.

 

What makes the Stars finish even more impressive is that they played the bulk of their games in the second half of the season on the road. Battleford only played at the Civic Centre, three times in February and March.

 

Battleford finished the season with 18 road wins which was second in the league behind Nipawin and Kindersley, The Bombers arn't a bad road team either going 15-12-0-2 away from the Whitney Forum.

 

The offensive edge has got to go to the Bombers who were  the third most explosive team in the league with 233 goals while the Stars scored 213.

 

Flin Flon had 6 players with 20 or more goals with a couple more players on the bubble while Battleford had 3.

 

The Bombers also have a lot more experienced back end with veterans Tyler Higgins, Isaac Jackson and Calvon Boots who returns from suspension tonight. Head Coach and GM Mike Reagan is really looking for Boots's tenasity and energy to lead his team just like he did against Melfort in the regular season finaly.

 

The Stars have a much younger d-core but do sport the SJHL Defenseman of the year in Cody Spagrud. Spagrud has more career games than the rest of the Battleford d-men combined so I expect to see him on the ice lots.

 

He was a big part of the Stars sweeping the Bombers just 2 years ago.

 

Goaltending will be interesting with veteran Joel Grzybowski getting the bulk of the work for the Stars this year playing 44 out of the 58 games. He played all 4 games against the Bombers surrendering 17 goals in the 4 games.

 

Gabriel Waked played against the Stars just once giving up 5 goals in the Bombers OT win back on January the 26th.

 

Waked will be the starter heading into the playoffs as he has got in a groove winnning his last 5 starts including both in the Wild Card against Weyburn.

 

Specialty teams were fairly even with the Bombers ranked second on the PP at 21.6 % while the Stars were sixth at 18.9 %.

 

Flin Flon and Battleford were tied with the second best PK at 86.3 %.

 

I think this has the making of being a classic as both these teams compliment each other so well and really like to go at one another. If the Bombers can get a split in the first two games I think they will have a really good chance to advance.

 

The key tonight will be to try and match the Stars intensity, especially early , with Battleford off for the last 10 days.

 

It is expected to be a mad house with about 1,500 fans expected for tonight's opener. Don't forget every single Flin Flon Bomber playoff game will be heard on 102.9 CFAR and flinflononline.com including tonight's at 8:10 MB time.

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