By James Brohm
Sioux Lookout, ON – The Sioux Lookout Bombers and Wisconsin Lumberjacks tip off the playoff series with an exciting battle. 559 fans packed the Hangar on Friday night to witness the action.
The Bombers started off controlling much of the play. The Lumberjacks would get into penalty trouble early with a Too Many Men penalty less than two minutes into the game. While Caden Sutter sat for the bench minor, Bombers’ captain Lucas Trimarchi tipped a Graeme Patrick shot past Kyler Lowden for the first playoff goal in Bombers history. Momentum was on the Bombers’ side for much off the rest of the first period. Late in the frame, on their third power play, Sioux Lookout scored again. This time Nathan Dann ripped a shot from the high slot through traffic that the Wisconsin netminder didn’t see or have any chance of stopping. The dying seconds of the period saw the series’ first tilt as Ryan Kayser got tangled up with Mitchell Daines and both willing combatants dropped the gloves.
The second period belonged to the Lumberjacks. At 4:12, Connor McClure got Wisconsin on the board with a tip of his own on a Dillon Phillips shot. Kyler Lowden would hold the fort down for the visiting team. Weathering the storm, through two more penalties, he would keep his team in the game and after a crazy series of amazing stops the Lumberjacks chipped the puck and and sprung Zach Johnson for a short-handed partial break which he buried behind Jake Manners. Johnson popped in a juicy rebound off a Manners pad save at 15:07 to pull the visiting team ahead for the first time in the game. Coach Carson Johnson was forced to call his 30-second timeout to focus the Bombers and try to get out of the period only down by one goal. Indeed, the home team responded well and kept the Lumberjacks at bay. It was 3-2 Wisconsin heading into the locker rooms.
The Bombers hit the ice in the third period reinvigorated. Their hard work paid off as the Burke boys and Trimarchi completed the Tic-Tac-Toe play to tie the game at 11:46 in the third. Bombers fans earned an assist on the next goal as their “Let’s Go Bombers” chants filled the Hangar and lifted their team. The were rewarded at 15:10 by Connor Burke, this time with a greasy broken play goal. The momentum swing was enough to carry Sioux Lookout. With the Lumberjacks’ goalie pulled for the extra attacker, Ty Bahm picked up a loose puck in his own zone and launched it into the empty net. That icing on the cake secured the Bombers 5-3 victory.
Jake Manners didn’t look his most comfortable in net for the Bombers but managed to battle through the game, stopping 40 of 43 shots. On the other end, Kyler Lowden earned the third star honours for his outstanding goaltending in the losing effort. Second and first stars went to Blake Burke and Ty Bahm, respectively.
The teams will square off for game two tomorrow night in the Hanger before switching scenery for games three and four in Wisconsin on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Photo Credit: Jesse Bonello/Sioux Lookout Bombers