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Pistons throttle Hawks to take Cup series lead

By: Terry Frey

Posted: 05/2/2018 7:35 AM

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Pistons' forward Jack Johnson keeps an eye on an airborne puck in front of goaltender Declan Hobbs Tuesday night in Nipawin as the Steinbach Pistons crushed the hometown Hawks 6-2 to take a 2-1 ANAVET Cup series lead.


Pistons' forward Jack Johnson keeps an eye on an airborne puck in front of goaltender Declan Hobbs Tuesday night in Nipawin as the Steinbach Pistons crushed the hometown Hawks 6-2 to take a 2-1 ANAVET Cup series lead.


In a complete and dominant performance, from start to finish, the Steinbach Pistons trounced the Nipawin Hawks 6-2 Tuesday night at Nipawin to take a 2-1 lead in the ANAVET Cup, pitting the MJHL-champion Steinbach Pistons against the SJHL-champion Nipawin Hawks.

The two teams split the first two games of the best of seven series last weekend in Steinbach and now this series is being played in Nipawin this week with games three, four and five. They will go at again tonight at 7:30 p.m. in Nipawin.

Nipawin fans are loud and proud, we saw some of that here last weekend, so when the puck dropped for last night's game, the partisan was crowd was ready to do their thing. But they never got a chance, the Pistons took the crowd out of it right from the start.

Showing no ill effects from the day-long bus ride the day before, which stopped at the site of the Humboldt Broncos bus crash just south of Nipawin to pay their respects to the fallen Broncos, the Pistons skated like the wind right from the outset.

Easton Bennett opened the scoring for the Pistons midway through the first period and the Pistons added three more in the second on goals by Brady Tatro, Austin Heidemann and Drew Worrad as the Pistons took a commanding 4-0 lead into the third as Centennial Arena in Nipawin (yes, they have one too) was eerily quiet. Even the goal judge was drowning his sorrows (that's a first), kept busy in that frame with the goal light lighting up three times on his watch on the Nipawin end. The guy was thirsty, no harm done.

The teams each scored twice in the third as Bradley Schoonbaert and Daniel McKitrick found the mark for the Pistons. Schoonbaert had a goal and two assists on the night. Logan Casavant and Carter Doerksen responded for the Hawks, who are expected to put up more of a fight in game four tonight.

Matthew Thiessen was his usual unflappable self in net for the Pistons last night as he backstopped the Pistons to victory, making 23 saves. Steinbach outshot Nipawin 33-25 in the contest, including 13-6 in that dominant second period.

Following the game, Pistons' defenceman Mark Wilson, who has been a rock on the blueline in this post-season, acknowledged that the Pistons played well in the contest, but also suggested that still wasn't their best, "we have another gear, we have a lot of confidence, we can take it up another notch."

Head coach Paul Dyck, on the quick start in the game for his team, said, "they were ready, they were excited to come to Nipawin, they are excited for this series." Dyck added, "taking the crowd out of it early was a key in tonight's game. We came into this game expecting to play well, and we did."

After a day off on Thursday, game five in the series will be played Friday in Nipawin. If necessary, the series shifts back to Steinbach for games six and seven next Monday and Tuesday.

The winner of the series advances to the RBC Cup National Junior 'A' Championship, being held May 12-20 at Chilliwack, B.C.

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