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Blues score late in third, even up semi-final series

Blues forward Levi Cudmore scored two goals, including the game-winner with 3:16 left in the third as the Winnipeg Blues defeated the Steinbach Pistons 3-2 Sunday night.

With the win, Winnipeg evens up the MJHL semifinal series at one game apiece. Jeremy Link was excellent in the Blues goal stopping 40 shots in the win. Matthew Thiessen got the start for the Pistons, and he stopped 28 of 31 shots in another solid performance in net.

It was the Pistons that got on the board first, as the puck was worked around to Riese Gaber on the power play. He fired a shot that beat Link short-side to give Steinbach a 1-0 lead. Daniel McKitrick and Darby Gula picked up the assist on Gaber’s 2nd of the playoffs at 8:59 of the first period.

The Blues came back five minutes later to tie it up, as Kelton Sutherland notched his third of the playoffs from Devon Skoleski at the 14:01 mark of the first. It was 1-1 after twenty minutes, and Steinbach outshot the Blues 14-10 in the opening frame.

The second period was a nasty one, as eight minor penalties were called in the period with 5 belonging to the Pistons. With one of their best penalty-killers in Mark Wilson sitting in the box for interference, Cudmore capped off a nice passing play in front to give the Blues their first lead of the series. Dexter Kuczek and Nick Cicek picked up the helpers on Cudmore’s first of the game at the 5:38 mark of the second.

Winnipeg could have gone up by two when they went on an extended 1:12 long 5-on-3 power play. But some timely saves by Thiessen and a huge block by Tyson McConnell snuffed that chance out. It remained 2-1 Winnipeg after 40 minutes of play.

The Pistons tied the game 2:04 into the third, as Brendan Martin took a pass from Riese Gaber in the neutral zone and worked his way to the Blues goal and tucked it past Link and into the goal. Martin nabbed his 2nd goal of the playoffs from Gaber.

The Pistons had 2 chances to take the lead in the middle of the third period on the power play, but could not capitalize. Brady Tatro took a crucial slashing penalty with just over 5 minutes to play that proved to be the difference, as Cudmore beat Thiessen in the slot to give Winnipeg the 3-2 lead.

The Pistons got a chance to tie it up again with yet another power play late in the third, but the Blues PK did not give in and time expired.

NOTE

Tonight’s loss was the first regulation loss for the Pistons since January 8th, when they lost 4-2 to the Winkler Flyers.

SPECIAL TEAMS

The Pistons went 1 for 7 on the PP, and the Blues went 2 for 5 on their man advantages.

UP NEXT: Game 3 is set for Tuesday at the TG Smith Centre, with the puck drop scheduled for 7:30 pm. You can get your tickets online at Steinbachpistons.ca, or at the gate prior to the game.