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Pistons win MJHL championship

By: Terry Frey

Posted: 04/22/2018 9:21 AM

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Steinbach Pistons, 2017-18 MJHL champions.


Steinbach Pistons, 2017-18 MJHL champions.


The Steinbach Pistons won the Manitoba Junior Hockey League championship Saturday night in Virden holding off a determined Oil Capitals squad in a 2-1 final score to win the championship series four games to two.

Virden won the first two games of the series 2-1 and 4-3, but the favoured Pistons roared back with four straight victories to claim their second Turnbull Cup following their inaugural title back in 2012-13.

All the scoring in last night's game came in a 77-second span in the first period. Ben Dalke staked the Oil Capitals to a 1-0 lead as he scored with 5:42 remaining in the opening period. Riese Gaber tied it for the Pistons just 36 seconds later and then Brendan Martin followed up just 41 seconds later with what proved to be the winning goal.

Matthew Thiessen shut the door the rest of the way making 25 saves in the contest to preserve the victory, setting off a wild celebration.

There were 1,500 fans on hand at the stunning Tundra Oil & Gas Place in Virden, at least 200 of those Pistons' fans that made the trek to Virden for this momentous game, travelling by plane, bus and car.

Piston forward Drew Worrad, the leading scorer in the post-season with 18 points in 16 games, was named MVP of the playoffs.

Pistons' rookie superstar goalie, the always affable Matthew Thiessen, still smiling since day one of the season, said after the celebratory melee, "it's been quite the ride the season, we hung on tonight, scratched it out, this feels great."

Team captain Braden Purtill said their game plan "was to keep it simple in the game and to utlilize our speed, and we were able to do that." Purtill said it has been quite an emotional series because of the Humbold Broncos tragedy, then going down 2-0 in the series, and battling back to win the next four. "We were playing this series in tribute to the Humboldt Broncos and will continue to do so on to the RBC Cup.

Head coach Paul Dyck, who was also behind the bench for the club's first title five years ago, said this championship was so different, "that one was unexpected, this one was somewhat more expected, we came in with high expectations this season, expecting to win this championship, I would call it quiet confidence, I feel a sense of relief right now."

"I am so proud of those boys in being able to win this thing," said Dyck, "this is a close team that was able to pull together and win the championship after losing the first two."

Steinbach will now take on the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League champions in the best-of-seven Anavet Cup, for the right to compete in the RBC Cup national championship next month at Chilliwack, B.C.

The Nipawin Hawks currently lead the Estevan Bruins 3-2 in the SJHL finals, with game six slated for Sunday night at Estevan and then a game seven, if necessary, Tuesday at Nipawin.

The first two games of the Anavet Cup will be played this coming weekend in Steinbach, on Friday and Saturday nights, with details to be released on that series in the coming days.


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