Sioux Lookout Takes Series Opener

By Gary Moskalyk

Oliver Paipoonge, ON – Tait Howell scored three unassisted goals and Jack Osmond made 45 saves as the Sioux Lookout Bombers took game one of the 2024 SIJHL finals with a 5-3 win over the Kam River Fighting Walleye.

The Bombers needed two late third period goals to pull it off. Kam River fought back from a 3-0 deficit to tie the game midway through the third.

“Real back and forth game,” said Bomber head coach Carson Johnstone. “We want to make sure we don’t let them back in games. That’s just the way they are, they’re a good hockey team over there. They’re skilled, give them space they can punish you. We learned, obviously, that we can’t allow them to do that. I was happy the guys stuck with it, didn’t get discouraged by giving up the lead, and just kept working at it. We got rewarded for their efforts.”

Special teams figured into the Bombers’ 2-0 first period lead. Defenceman Nolan Palmer scored from the point at 16:02 on the power play to open the game. Tait Howell broke in all alone, scoring his first of the game at 18:02, an unassisted shorthanded marker, to double the margin.

The Bombers to that point of the playoffs, had as many shorthanded goals (six) as power plays goals allowed.

Howell got his second unassisted marker midway through the second, flipping the puck to himself after stealing it deep in the Walleye zone, and batting it past Ashton Sadauskas for a 3-0 lead.

Riley Borody, back from injury, got a capacity Norwest Arena crowd of 893 up and cheering with his first of the playoffs at 15:53 of the middle frame, on a tic-tac-toe power play effort with Jett Mintenko and Jacob Sargent. Less than a minute later Matteo Salvatore slid a puck past Osmond to tighten the score at 3-2.

Defenceman Edwin Liang completed the comeback at 9:11 of the third, tipping in Ryan Daponte’s shot to tie the game at three-all.

With overtime looking, Jonah Smith foiled Sadauskas’ clearing attempt and scored the game winner at 18:34 with an assist from Alex Lucas. The Walleye went with an extra attacker with 74 seconds left. 

Howell scored his third unassisted goal of the game into an empty net as the Bombers snapped a 23-game Kam River winning streak and took a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven.

Sadauskas stopped 29 of 33 in his first playoff loss. 

Sioux Lookout was 1-2 on the power play while Kam River was 1-3. The Bombers took three of the five minor penalties called. Game two is Thursday night at Norwest at 7:05.