The Carillon - ONLINE EDITION
By: Terry Frey
Posted: 04/29/2018 8:26 AM
In what head coach Paul Dyck said was a must-win game for the Steinbach Pistons after that game one loss the previous night, the Pistons overpowered the Nipawin Hawks in a dominant third period display Saturday night in Steinbach to defeat the Hawks 3-1 and tie the ANAVET Cup series 1-1.
Similar to Friday's series opener, that saw the Hawks eke out a 4-3 victory, it was much of the same through most of last night's contest, until the Pistons got untracked in the third, led by their team captain Braden Purtill and his two goals.
Nipawin took the lead on a goal by Logan Casavant with four minutes remaining in the first and the score remained 1-0 through two periods. Finally, four minutes into the the third, Austin Heidemann struck on the powerplay as the Pistons tied it, electrifying the crowd.
Purtill scored the winner midway through the period and then added another three minutes later as the old barn erupted again and again.
Purtill's third goal came on a powerplay after Nipawin defenceman Thomas Lenchyshyn, who hails from Steinbach and briefly played for the Pistons in year's past, now an assistant captain of the Hawks, took a highly undisciplined major penalty as he was given a five-minute major for a blow to the head to Riese Gaber and assessed a game misconduct. That penalty came with nine minutes left in the third, Purtill scored on the powerplay two minutes later and Lenchsyhyn, who led the Hawks with 215 penalty minutes during the regular season, was a major factor in ensuring the Pistons didn't go down 2-0 in the series.
The speedy Gaber, who had been flying around the ice and was a sparkplug for the Pistons in the third, was injured after that brutal blow to the head and did not return to the game. His status is unkown at this time.
Purtill said they were able to be so effective in the third "by just keep getting pucks to the net and we were able to generate offence that way, taking advantage of our powerplay opportunities." The Pistons were playing the game without two of their key players out with injury, Will Koop and Brady Tatro, but Purtill says, "we have depth on this team and that is partly how we have been so successful this season."
Matthew Thiessen was outstanding in net for the Pistons making 25 saves as the Pistons outshot the Hawks 32-26, including 13-5 in that dominant three-goal third period.
"That was a huge win for us," said Dyck, "it would have been tough on the road with three straight being down 2-0, that's a good team we're playing here, any team that gets to this level you know will play at a high level."
The series between the MJHL and SJHL champs now shifts to Nipawin for games three, four and five in the best of seven series to be played Tueday, Wednesday and Friday.
Then its back to Steinbach, if necessary, for games six and seven on May 7 & 8. The winner of this series advances to the RBC Cup National Junior 'A' championship, May 12-20 at Chilliwack, B.C.
The defending MJHL champion Steinbach Pistons, with their pre-season schedule now completed, will spend the week in practice preparing for their regular season opener Friday night in Steinbach.
With a weekend home-and-home sweep of the Selkirk Steelers by scores ...
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