Sioux Lookout Bombers cap off regular season on special night with a 4-2 win, look ahead to playoffs
Tim Brody - Editor
The Sioux Lookout Bombers concluded their first Superior International Junior Hockey League (SIJHL) regular season with a 4-2 win over the visiting Fort Frances Lakers on March 18 at the Hangar (Sioux Lookout Memorial Arena).
The Bombers got off to a quick start with goals from Tegan Neuman and Lucas Trimarchi early in the first period.
The Lakers got on the scoreboard in the second period with a goal by Dylan Wedward.
Graeme Patrick scored for the Bombers just seconds into the third period with assists going to Trimarchi and Ty Bahm.
Wedward found the back of the net again for the Lakers.
Mitchell Daines added the insurance goal for the Bombers at just under the 16 minute mark to seal the win for the hometown team.
Bombers Head Coach Carson Johnstone said it was a great way to cap off the season, “I told the guys after everything this year, I’m just proud of them, proud of the expansion team finishing in third place.”
The event was special not only because it was the last game of the regular season for the team, but also for the fact the event was Physician Appreciation Night and Hockey Fights Cancer Night.
The Bombers shared at the beginning of the march, “The Sioux Lookout Bombers would like to acknowledge the contributions made to our community by the entire team of medical and support staff at the Sioux Lookout Meno Ya Win Health Centre and the Hugh Allen Clinic.
“Attracting new medical professionals to Sioux Lookout is critical to ensuring the high level of care available to our town and region continues. Tonight, we welcome members of the Physician Recruitment team as well as several Medical Students from the Northern Ontario School of Medicine. Let’s give them a big Bombers welcome!
“Tonight, we also come together as a community to raise awareness and support those who have been affected by cancer. We stand in solidarity with survivors, fighters, and those who have lost loved ones to this disease. Through the power of hockey, we will continue to fight for a cure.
“Tonight’s special Hockey Fights Cancer jerseys have been graciously donated by Slate Falls Air. After the game, two jerseys have been autographed by the entire Sioux Lookout Bombers team and put up for auction, ONE on the Bombers Facebook page AND ONE by silent auction in the Lobby.
“Every one of us has been touched by cancer in some way, and we want to come together as a community to stand strong in the face of this challenge. The Sioux Lookout Bombers ask you to join us in a moment of silence to honour those who have been affected by cancer.”
Dropping the evening’s ceremonial first puck was Matt McClelland representing Slate Falls Air and Dan Shilensky representing the SLRPSI Physicians.
Joe Cassidy, Bombers President and Director of Business Operations, said following the game, “We heard some of the struggles about physician recruitment and that there is a group working to help encourage physicians to come here. So, we had the idea to have a night where we recognize the physicians because obviously healthcare is an economic driver in this town, people come down from the north, it’s an anchor in this community. Having the ability to recognize those people in front of 400 plus people, I think it was just great the support, having them come out, hopefully they see and spread the word about how hospitable Sioux Lookout is to physicians and how much we appreciate what they do and having them in our community.”
He said of the Hockey Fights Cancer component of the evening, “Cancer is one of those things, you don’t know everyone’s story and everyone knows someone who’s battling it and to just have that ability for us to do the fundraiser to support the Meno Ya Win (Health Centre) and put it towards helping to fight cancer, especially here locally, again, tying it back into healthcare, it kind of worked out for us with the game being cancelled last night (due to a winter storm) and having two causes that are very closely related, I think it was pretty seamless to tie those together into one game.”
Each of the Bombers players purchased their Hockey Fight Cancer jersey, raising $2500, which will be donated to the Sioux Lookout Meno Ya Win Health Centre Foundation. “We’re hoping we can get that started going towards the new MRI… That’s a game changed for healthcare in this community,”
“It was a great cause, a great event, and I was really happy for the fans out tonight showing their support. It was fantastic.,” he added.
Daines said of his big goal after the game, “That was pretty darn exciting. I had a buddy pass away not too long ago, so I’m glad I was able to get that goal for him. Not only that, that was just awesome playing with the 20-year-olds for their last regular season game. I’m just happy we could pull out the win for them, not only that, all the fans are in the stands, we’ve got great support here, so it’s just awesome.”
He said of the upcoming playoffs, “This gives us some really good momentum for next week. Everybody in this room is dialed. We’re all ready to go. Wisconsin, keep your head up.”
Bombers Captain Trimarchi reflected, “It was a really up and down season. As our first year it was pretty good.”
He said of rising money through Hockey Fights Cancer Night, “It was a good cause obviously, Hockey Fights Cancer night. It was a really good team effort.”
Johnstone said the evening was special for several reasons, “It’s the last time those 20 year olds are ever going to play a regular season hockey game, special because of Hockey Fights Cancer Night, so beforehand I just said to them, you know what fellas? Let’s just play well and put the cherry on top of a pretty good season so far. We’re not done, but we’ve got an opportunity here to have a good evening and just roll into the playoffs doing good things, and we did that.”
The opening round matchups and scheduled for the 2023 SIJHL playoffs are set with the third place Sioux Lookout Bombers facing off against the sixth place Wisconsin Lumberjacks.
The Bombers will host the Lumberjacks on March 24 and 25 in Sioux Lookout. Puck drop is at 7:30 p.m. for both games.
The Bombers then travel to Wisconsin to battle the Lumberjacks at the Spooner Civic Centre on March 28 and March 29.
Games five, six and seven of the series, should they be necessary, will take place March 31 in Sioux Lookout, April 2 in Wisconsin, and April 5 in Sioux Lookout.
“It’s a best four of seven series, so here on out, we’ll see. We’ve got Wisconsin first, we’ve got to get past them, then go from there,” Johnstone said.
“You want to be hitting your stride at the right time, doing good things. If you look at our first period tonight, I think we did a lot of really good things. I think we’re kind of hitting our stride that way as far as just doing the right things and having good habits all the time, so I feel positive and the I think the guys are feeling positive,” Johnstone said.
Commenting on the Hockey Fights Cancer Night, Johnstone shared, “What I told them beforehand, we’ve all had people close to us, like most people in the world, that have been touched by this deadly disease… I told them before the game, you know what fellas? For me, I used a personal example, my grandma had pancreatic cancer and when I was playing hockey at the time when she had it, I remember thinking to myself before games, If I can be half in on a puck battle or half in on a puck race, my grandma’s not half in on anything right now, she’s battling for her life, the least I can do is win a puck battle, so that’s kind of the way I presented it to them… you’ve got other people fighting for lives, so let’s put that into perspective and just go hard because we have the privilege to play this game as healthy young men.”
Johnstone had this to say to the fans who have supported the team all season, “Thank you so much. Appreciate the support. I can’t say enough how awesome it’s been just having the people in the crowd supporting us. It means a lot. We have a great home record and that’s because of the support we’ve had, so please carry it over and we’ll do our best into the playoffs and hopefully give you a good show.”
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