The Carillon - ONLINE EDITION
By: Terry Frey
Posted: 05/17/2018 1:32 AM
The Steinbach Pistons suffered a devastating 5-4 overtime loss to the Ottawa Jr. Senators Wednesday night at the RBC Cup National Junior ‘A’ Championship at Chilliwack.
Nick Lalonde scored the winning goal on the powerplay six minutes into the 10-minute overtime period.
It was the third straight one-goal loss for the Pistons in this national five-team tournament, and in all three of those round robin losses, the Pistons blew a two-goal lead.
The Pistons remain in last place in the standings and must win their final game tonight (Thursday) against host Chilliwack to have a chance at a semi-final berth on Saturday.
It was also the third straight game the Pistons scored first but just couldn’t hang on to a lead.
Steinbach skated to a 3-1 lead after the first period as the Pistons received goals from Brendan Martin, Braden Purtill and Darby Gula, while Riese Gaber set up two of the those first period goals. Conor Smart had the Ottawa goal in the first, briefly tying it after Martin’s opener.
Steinbach ran into penalty trouble in the second period as the Senators dominated the frame outshooting the Pistons 19-6 in the period. Finn Evans narrowed the Steinbach lead to 3-2 as he scored for the Senators midway through the second on a long slap from just inside the blue line that eluded Matt Radomsky.
Slowly the tide was turning in this game as the Pistons desperately needed a regulation time win to stay relevant in the tournament, but Ottawa kept the pressure on finally tying it on a Gabriel Morin goal five minutes into the third. Shortly after that the Pistons lost Riese Gaber for the game as Gaber was given a game misconduct for hitting from behind.
But the Pistons regained the lead on a goal by Austin Heidemann three minutes after Ottawa’s equalizer. But that 4-3 Pistons’ lead was short-lived as Ottawa again tied it just a minute later on a goal by Owen Guy at the 9:55 mark.
Neither team could score in the final 10 minutes of regulation.
Five minutes into the overtime Braden Purtill was sent to the box for slashing and Ottawa cashed in with the winner.
Ironically, Purtill, with a goal and two assists in the game was Steinbach’s best player in the contest and in fact received Player of the Game honours for the Pistons.
Ottawa outshot the Pistons 42-22 as Matt Radomsky, playing in place of the injured Matthew Thiessen was strong in net for the Pistons, making 37 saves.
Pistons’ defenceman Darby Gula said, following the disappointing loss, "I think we’re still struggling to put together a 60-minute game, it’s been the trend for us all tournament. We’re starting well, getting out to leads and then throwing it away. We’re still trying to piece together a full game, and we’ll work extra hard at it tomorrow."
In this tournament, three points are awarded for a regulation time win, two for an overtime win, and one point for an overtime loss.
The Pistons, with two overtime losses, have only two points, and are in last place in the standings. The Wenatchee Wild lead with seven points while Chilliwack and Ottawa have six points. All three of those teams have clinched semi-final berths. The Wellington Dukes are fourth with three points.
So that final semi-final berth will go to either the Wellington Dukes or the Steinbach Pistons. The Pistons can qualify for the semis if they beat Chilliwack in their final game tonight, either in regulation or in overtime. But they would also need Wellington to lose to Wenatchee in the earlier game in the afternoon.
However, if Wellington beats Wenatchee this afternoon in either OT or in regulation, the Pistons would be eliminated even before they take to the ice tonight against Chilliwack.
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