Well the talking is over and now it's time to play some hockey. The Flin Flon Bombers and Nipawin Hawks will kick off their best of 7 SJHL Semi- Final tonight at the Whitney Forum.
This is the matchup people were expecting and hoping for as it is only a 4 hour trek and one of the best rivalries in this league.
I remember the last two playoff meetings vividly including the 2001 matchup when the Hawks stopped the Bombers Royal Bank Cup quest in 5 games in the Division Final. Flin Flon gained revenge in 2013 when Mike Reagan's crew beat the Hawks in 6.
The two communities really get involved and it is pure electricity in both buildings and shows you what playoff hockey is all about. I remember having goose bumps waiting for the puck to drop in one of the most intense series I ever called in both 2001 and 2013.
These two teams match up very well and ended up tied for second overall with 83 points, but the Bombers took 7 out of 8 meetings and were awarded the second seed.
The biggest surprise for me was that Flin Flon won all 4 games at the Cage and I don't remember that ever happening before in the 20 plus years I have travelled to Nipawin.
Despite the Bombers success against the Hawks this year, Mike Reagan is quick to point out they are anything but over confident and remembers their regular season record against Weyburn last year and look how that turned out.
Depth continues to be the marker for both these teams and Flin Flon has a lot of guys who can score. Flin Flon had 5 players in the top 20 in scoring including Greyson Reitmeier who took the scoring race with 79 points including 28 goals.
Jason Lavallee (30-37), Rylee Zimmer (21-43), Nick Shumlanski (17-39) and Eric Sinclair (17-34) were the other Bombers to finish in the top 20.
Nipawin is also deep up front with Bly and Milligan finishing in the top 20 in scoring. Both these players were added in trades with Bly coming over from Kindersley and Milligan was obtained from Melville on January the 10th.
The Hawks also got Bolden back from College and Brandon Arnold from the WHL'S Swift Current Broncos and I don't think anyone bolstered their lineup as much as Nipawin did in the second half. Doug's crew have lost out to Melfort the past couple of seasons and were only within a goal from going to the league final last year.
Kristian Stead is the rock of this team and was awarded the league's best goalie and went 29-12-1 with a league best 7 shut-outs. For what ever reason he struggled against the Bombers and was just 1-5 in the head to head meetings and fought the puck in many of those games.
Zac Robidoux has carried the mail this post season and was in between the pipes for all 4 wins against Notre Dame and played the Hawks very well this year including back to back shut outs to close out the season. Robidoux who already has a national title under his belt knows all about playing in the big games and handles his emotions as well as anyone I have ever seen.
Both teams should be well rested with the Hawks enjoying a 7 day break and the Bombers have been off for the last 6.
This series will be a lot of fun to watch and call and I fully expect to see lots of fans travelling back and forth for what could be a deep series. Most people expect to see at least 6 games and we will start to watch it unfold tonight.
Remember every Bomber moment will be captured on 102.9 CFAR and flinflononline.com starting with the Murray GM Coach's Show at 7:15 tonight, drop of the puck at 7:30.
We are at the Cage tomorrow with the Murray GM Coach's Show at 8:15, play by play at 8:30.