Ethan Anstey’s hockey season is now over and it ended in perhaps the cruelest way possible.
The 20-year-old Anstey and his Flin Flon Bombers were eliminated from the Centennial Cup, Canada’s Jr. A hockey championship, by the Pickering Panthers of the Ontario Junior Hockey League on May 27 by a score of 3-2 in sudden-death double-overtime. It was a game where the Bombers had a 2-0 lead in the second period but let it get away.
Anstey said it was a game of two parts.
“Our power-play got us two goals and that gave us more confidence — it was growing as our lead did,” he said.
Problem was the Panthers scored their two goals down a man and Anstey said that’s always a killer.
“Those are the daggers for any team,” he said. “Bad enough you give up one short-handed goal in a game but two is even worse.”
Going into overtime, Anstey said the confidence was still there mostly because the Bombers knew they would probably get their best chance.
“They’re an undisciplined team and we knew they would take (a penalty),” he said. “They did and we had the power-play in the first overtime but we couldn’t come through.”
Pickering’s winner came off a point shot which Anstey said fluttered past Bombers goaltender Cal Schell, a shot he never saw.
“I watched it go in and my heart sank,” he said. “I was devastated. I looked down the bench at the guys and it was heartbreaking.”
Had the Bombers won, they would have had a semifinal rematch with the Dauphin Kings of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League, who the Bombers beat in the round-robin, 2-1, in a shootout.
“We knew we would have had that game locked,” said Anstey. “We knew what we had to do to beat those guys but we missed our chance.”
The Bombers, representing the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League, advanced to the playoffs thanks to a record of three wins and one loss in the round-robin stage. The lone blemish came at the hands of the Summerside Western Capitals of the Maritime Hockey League on May 23, a 4-1 loss.
Even though the Bombers had the same amount of wins as both the Capitals and Kings, they finished third because two of those wins came in overtime. The tournament uses the international points system, where regulation-time wins are worth three points and overtime/shootout wins are worth two, while a loss in overtime is worth one point.
This was Anstey’s first trip to the national championship and it’s a trip he thought he never would have made had he not been traded twice during the season. He began this season with the Fort McMurray Oil Barons of the Alberta Junior Hockey League before being dealt to the Cowichan Valley Capitals of the BC Hockey League during the pre-season. He was traded to the Bombers in January.
“Everything happens for a reason,” said Anstey. “I found a team I could stick with and I never thought I would get to play in a Game 7 for the SJHL title and make it to the quarter-finals of the national championship.”
As of now, Anstey plans on returning to Flin Flon for what will be his final season of junior hockey but he said it all depends on what the team wants to do.
“The team will have changes but I would love to come back because I love it here,” he said. “It reminds me so much of Yellowknife”