The Flin Flon Bombers were able to wrap up 2014 on a bright note by beating the Battleford Northstars, not once but twice this past weekend.
After back to back losses against Laronge and Humboldt to start the road trip, Flin Flon was able to get a day off from the rink and it seemed to be just what the doctor ordered.
Coming into Friday's game against the Stars, the Bombers were winless in six games and had been out scored 25-13. It just seemed as soon as December hit the offense just dried up.
The Bombers were able to get a 23 save performance from Adam Beukeboom in what I would say was their biggest win of the season 3-0 on Friday night. Empey(5), Chartrand(2) and Smith (14) were able to provide the necessary offense for the Bombers 16th victory of the season. I can't imagine how big this win was just for the confidence level.
It was nice to see the team not give up and simply coast into the Christmas break, with their best defensive effort of December. Battleford were only able to muster 5 shots in the third period and the Bombers were able to shut down the Stars and not allow them to get a lot of good scoring opportunities.
Flin Flon used a big second period on Saturday en route to a 5-3 victory. Bomber goal scorers were: Alison(10), Empey(6), Smith (15), ST.Onge(3) and Evans (4). All the Bomber scoring came in the second period. Battleford did reply with 3 goals in the third period to come back and make a game of it. The Bombers out shot the Stars 33-28 for the second straight game.
So the Bombers will go into 2015 with a record of: 17-7-5-4- 43 points which is 3 behind second place Nipawin. Both teams have played 33 games. Flin Flon is 14 points behind first place Melfort with 3 games in hand. The Mustangs are on a tear 9-0-1 in their last 10.
Despite a tough December, the Bombers are still ranked third in the league in goals for with 118, only Melfort and Kindersley have scored more, and the Bombers have games in hand on both of them.
Flin Flon will now go on a two week break before hitting the ice for the first time in 2015, when they host Humboldt Sunday January the 4th.
One of the things Flin Flon will have to improve on in the new year if they want to vault up the standings is their record within the division. The Bombers are : 5-3-3-3 so far this season, with 3 of their wins coming against Laronge. Flin Flon has only managed 2 wins against Melfort and Nipawin in 10 meetings so far this year.
The Bombers will play Melfort two more times in the new year, Nipawin four times and Laronge four times which will be a big factor in where they finish the season. Right now they are fouth overall tied with Notre Dame.
Another challenge for the Bombers entering 2015, will be getting their offense back in check. Austin Calladine who was in the top ten in scoring for all of October and half of November is really struggling. Calladine hasn't scored a goal since November the 19th, when he had a pair against Kindersley.
He isn't alone, other players the Bombers were counting on including Austin Evans, Tyson Empey and Parker Evans Campbell are also struggling. Evans has two goals in 2 months and Empey has only 6 goals on the year with 3 of them coming in December. Evans Campbell has only managed to find the back of the net, 3 times in 2 months.
If these guys can get going and Flin Flon continues to get contributions from Rauckman, Smith, Allison and Kocur, the Bombers will be a very dangerous team to play against. Flin Flon will also have to cut down on their trips to the sin bin. The Bombers are the most penalized team in the league with 902 pms so far this year.
I for one look forward to the challenges that present themselves in the second half of the season. Mike Reagan says he has liked his team from day 1, and is going to be patient and let his team get back on track.
It will be very interesting to see what Reagan does if anything on January the 10th, which isn't very far away.
I would like to take this opportunity to wish you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, and all the best to you and yours in 2015.