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The Carillon - ONLINE EDITION

Pistons win ANAVET Cup in thriller

Next stop RBC Cup nationals at Chilliwack

By: Terry Frey

Posted: 05/8/2018 7:44 AM

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The Steinbach Pistons, just seconds after the final buzzer, erupt in celebration after they defeated the Nipawin Hawks 2-1 Monday night in Steinbach to win the ANAVET Cup to qualify for the RBC Cup National Junior 'A' Championships at Chilliwack beginning Saturday..

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The Steinbach Pistons, just seconds after the final buzzer, erupt in celebration after they defeated the Nipawin Hawks 2-1 Monday night in Steinbach to win the ANAVET Cup to qualify for the RBC Cup National Junior 'A' Championships at Chilliwack beginning Saturday..

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The Steinbach Pistons were the authors of a memorable celebration at the T.G. Smith Centre in Steinbach Monday, both on the ice and off with their rabid fans stepping it up a notch, as the Pistons won the ANAVET Cup with a thrilling 2-1 victory over the Nipawin Hawks.

Steinbach, the MJHL champions, defeated the SJHL-champion Hawks four games to two in the series.

And of course what this means is this incredible season continues as the Pistons will now compete in the RBC Cup National Junior 'A' Championship, May 12-20 at Chilliwack, B.C.

When Bradley Schoonbaert, set up by his slick linemates Austin Heidemann and Drew Worrad, scored what proved to be winning goal seven minutes into the third, it set off decibel levels in the old barn not seen since their first MJHL championship win in 2013.

The Pistons struck first in the game as Brady Tatro set the tone early as he scored just 2:52 after the opening face-off, and the scored remained 1-0 in this tense affair until the Hawks tied it with six minutes left in the second on a goal by Wayde Johannesson.

Steinbach outshot Nipawin 27-24 as Matthew Thiessen made 23 saves for the Pistons and Declan Hobbs 25 for the Hawks.  

Pistons' forward Drew Worrad, who had nine points in the six games, was named MVP of the series. Worrad was also the also the MVP of the MJHL playoffs. Nipawin's exceptional forward Brandon Arnold, held off the scoresheet last night, led all scorers in the series with six goals in six games and 11 points.

These two evenly matched teams, who both led their respective leagues during the regular season, battled hard as they split the first two games of the series in Steinbach, then the Pistons won two of three last week at Nipawin, culminating in a huge 2-1 Steinbach victory on Friday, before the teams returned back to Steinbach for game six last night.

"This is very special, it's awesome, to win this at home in front of our fans," said head coach and GM Paul Dyck, " the series was a grind, it was tough, we just didn't have much left, we didn't want this to go to a game seven."

Darby Gula, the Steinbach product who was named the MJHL's Top Defenceman, was absolutely superb last night for the Pistons as he showed the flash and talent that led him to be the highest scoring rearguard in the league this year. "This is very exciting," said Gula, among all the hoopla on the ice, "we were able to shut them down, not allow a lot of scoring chances."

The Pistons will fly to Chilliwack on Friday  to get ready for the RBC Cup. There are five teams competing at Chilliwack, including the host Chilliwack Chiefs and four regional champions from across the country. The Pistons are now West region champions and will play their opening game of the championships against the Pacific champion Wenatchee Wild from Washington, Sunday at 4:00 p.m.

Each team plays four round robin games, with the semi-finals on Saturday and the championship game on Sunday, May 20.

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