The Carillon - ONLINE EDITION
By: Terry Frey
Posted: 04/2/2019 8:37 AM
The defending Manitoba Junior Hockey League champion Steinbach Pistons were eliminated from the playoffs Monday night in Steinbach as they turned in a gutsy and determined effort against a talented Swan Valley Stampeders squad as the Stampeders beat the Pistons 5-3 (last second empty netter).
Swan Valley, second place finishers during the regular season, defeated the third place Pistons 4-2 in the semi-final series and will now take on the pennant-winning Portage Terriers in the MJHL championship series.
The fact there even was a game in Steinbach last night came courtesy of Matt Radomsky, who turned in a scintillating 57-save performance Saturday at Swan River as the Pistons edged the Stampeders 3-2 to bring the series back to Steinbach for game six.
Last night's game immediately got off on the wrong foot for the Pistons. With the fans still settling into their seats following the opening face-off, the Pistons coughed up the puck at the Swan Valley blue line and Bradly Goethals broke in and beat Radomsky for the game's first goal just 31 seconds after the opening face-off.
Penalties again plagued the Pistons in the opening period as the Stampeders romped to a 4-1 first period lead and it looked like this could by a lopsided affair.
After Goethals' opener, Matthew Osadick made it 2-0 Swan Valley seven minutes into the game, scoring on the powerplay, as Radomsky, who had made those phemomenal 57 saves two nights earlier, had now surrendered two goals on five shots.
Riley Vautour, the hottest player in the series for the Pistons scored with eight minutes remaining in the first to make it a 2-1 game.
But Swan Valley's Tucker Scantlebury scored two goals late in the period to give the Stampeders a huge three-goal lead at the break. And although those last two goals were not powerplay goals, Steinbach penalties contributed to both those markers. Scantlebury's first came 18 seconds after the Pistons had completed killing off a penalty, and his second came just seven seconds after the Pistons had killed off another penalty and on both occasions Swan Valley kept the puck in the Steinbach zone after the powerplays and eventually scored.
The Pistons, to their credit, and with their backs against the wall, outplayed the Stampeders in the final two periods.
Tanner Mole made it 4-2 Steinbach six minutes into the second and then Kyle Bettens sent the crowd into a frenzy as he brought the Pistons to within a goal as he scored with 5:18 remaining in regulation.
But with only 4:43 remaining and the Pistons desparately attempting to tie the game, the Pistons' Tristan Culleton received a double highsticking minor as the Pistons were forced to play the game out a man short and were unable to get the equalizer.
So, after back to back pennant winning seasons the previous two years with the league's best regular season record and of course last year's MJHL and Anavet Cup titles, the Pistons just couldn't get to that level this year as the Stampeders were deserving victors in the series and should be applauded for the strong season they have had to date as they now seek their first MJHL title.
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