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Bruins and Bombers are going the distance

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Lynnden Pastachak (24 white), pictured here skating around Flin Flon's Dean Allison, has been one of the Bruins' stand-out players in the first round series against the Flin Flon Bombers. (Photo credit: Jennifer Durr Photography)

The Estevan Bruins and the Flin Flon Bombers are going to a fifth and deciding game in their first round playoff match-up.

Flin Flon extended the series with a 4-1 victory in Game 4 on home ice on March 11. Game 5 will be played at Affinity Place in Estevan on March 13 at 7:30 p.m.

Estevan escaped Game 1 with a 3-2 double overtime victory. Estevan had a 2-0 lead midway through the second period on goals by Keegan Allison in the first period, and Michael Sagen in the second. But 29 seconds after Sagen scored, Flin Flon's Tyson Empey tallied to cut the lead in half.

The Bombers controlled the rest of the second period, and most of the third, and they were rewarded when Erik Pederson tied the game with 65 seconds to play.

Flin Flon outshot the Bruins 12-8 in the first overtime period, and they had the first five shots on goal in the next frame, but it was the Bruins' Jason Duret who scored the winner when he converted Allison's pass after four minutes of double overtime.

Matt Gibney made 50 saves for the win.

Head coach/GM Chris Lewgood said that Flin Flon controlled the game after the Bombers notched their first goal, and if not for Gibney's play, the Bruins would have dropped Game 1.

Estevan had another strong start in Game 2, and Lynnden Pastachak scored less than seven minutes into the game to give the Bruins a 1-0 lead. Seventy-four seconds later, Empey tied the game for Flin Flon.

The Bruins controlled the second period, outshooting Flin Flon 20-5, and Pastachak scored his second of the game to give the Bruins a 2-1 advantage.

Zach Douglas upped the Bruins' lead to 3-1 early in the third. But Dean Allison scored two controversial goals less than four minutes apart to tie the game.

Gibney, Lewgood and most people at Affinity Place thought both goals were the result of goaltender interference, but the referees allowed the markers to stand.

The Bombers scored the winner at the 8:49 mark of the first overtime on Empey's second of the game.

Gibney made 41 saves in the loss.

Lewgood said after Game 2 that he wasn't surprised with Flin Flon's level of play.

"We knew Flin Flon was a good hockey team," said Lewgood. "You don't get into the playoffs with the late season surge that they did without being a quality hockey team. They're well-coached, and you know they're buying into what he (coach Mike Reagan) is preaching, so we're not surprised at all."

The Flin Flon team that the Bruins beat on February 1 wasn't as "courageous" as the team that the Bruins are playing now, Lewgood said.

"It's the same guys," said Lewgood. "They've just found something within themselves to stick with it. Tonight (in Game 2) when we had them 3-1, they battled back and worked hard to make a game of it."

Game 3 had a somewhat similar script, as the Bruins led 3-1 early in the third period, thanks to a short-handed goal by Chris Thorimbert, and even strength goals by Keegan Allison and Austin Daae.

But eight seconds after Daae scored, Pederson had his second of the game to pull the Bombers to within one. Parker Evans-Campbell tied the game with about five minutes remaining in the third.

Pastachak, playing despite a shoulder injury suffered in Game 2, scored the winner less than two minutes into overtime on a shot that went through the net.

It was the sixth goal for the Pastachak-Duret-Keegan Allison line in the series.

"We just started gelling close to the end of the season," Pastachak said after Game 2. "We're young, we played against each other, we know how each other plays, and we have chemistry."

Gibney stopped 47 shots in the victory.

Flin Flon came out strong in Game 4, as Dean Allison and Austin Evans scored a little more than two minutes apart in the first period for a 2-0 Bomber lead. Ben Johnstone pulled the Bruins to within a goal with a second period tally, but goals by Pederson and Brody Robinson in the third clinched the victory.

Gibney stopped 41 shots in the loss.

Pastachak concedes that the Bruins might have underestimated the Bombers early in the series.

"They're hard on the forecheck, and they're hard on the backcheck, but other than that, they might be outworking us a little bit," he said.

If the Bruins win Game 5, they'll play the Battlefords North Stars in the next round.


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