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Pistons drop RBC Cup opener

By: Terry Frey

Posted: 05/14/2018 7:10 AM

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Odd as it may seem this early on, the Steinbach Pistons are in a near must-win situation when they take to the ice later tonight for their second game at the RBC Cup National Junior 'A' Hockey Championship at Chilliwack, B.C.

The Pistons opened the tournament Sunday afternoon with a 4-3 loss to the BCJHL champion Wenatchee Wings.

Wenatchee won their first game of the tournament Saturday night with a 2-1 overtime victory over the host Chilliwack Chiefs.

So when the Pistons lined up against the Wings just 16 hours later, they took advantage of that short turnaround by the Wings as the MJHL champs struck for two early goals. Luke Bellerose opened the scoring for the Pistons just two minutes after the opening face-off.

Three minutes later Austin Heidemann made it 2-0 Steinbach as scored on a breakaway, chasing Wenatchee starter Austin Park just five minutes into the game as back-up Seth Eisele took over for the Wings.

Late in the opening period Jasper Weatherby narrowed the Steinbach lead to 2-1 as he scored with only 39 seconds remaining in the opening frame.

Pistons' coach Paul Dyck says he considers Weatherby to be the top player in Canadian Junior 'A' Hockey. Weatherby wasted little time tying this game for the Wings as he scored his second just 21 seconds into the middle frame.

The Pistons were on their heels in the middle frame, outshot 15-4 in the stanza, but this game was still on even terms heading into the third.

Then Daniel McKitrick scored two minutes into the third to give the Pistons a big 3-2 lead. But that lead was short-lived as Zak Galambos tied it on the powerplay just a minute later and then A.J. Vanderbeek notched the winner 7:31 into the third.

Wenatchee outshot Steinbach 32-19 in the game as Matthew Thiessen made 28 saves in net for the Pistons.

All of the first four games of the tournament have been decided by one goal, three of in OT, including Wenatchee's Saturday game as well as the opening game of the tournament Saturday afternoon that saw the Ottawa Jr. Senators defeat the Wellington Dukes 2-1.

On Sunday night, the Chilliwack Chiefs thrilled their hometown fans with a 4-3 overtime victory over Ottawa, as incredibly, Will Caverley scored all four goals for the Chiefs.

Each of the five teams are playing four round robin games this week with the top four teams advancing to Saturday's semis. Three points are awarded for a regulation time victory, two for an overtime victory and one for an overtime loss.

That is why Steinbach's game tonight (at 9:00 p.m. Central) is so critically important. Wenatchee leads the standings with five points, followed by Chilliwack and Ottawa with three points and one point for Wellington.

The Pistons will have a break on Tuesday and then will complete their round robin with games against Ottawa on Wednesday night and then Chilliwack on Thursday night.

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