Courtesy of Steinbachonline.com – Picture Courtesy of Adeline Loewen Photography
Game 7 between the Steinbach Pistons and the Winkler Flyers was everything fans expected and more as both teams went back and forth, giving everything they had to move on to the MJHL finals and when the dust settled it was the Pistons with their hands raised in victory.
After battling back from a 3-1 series deficit, the message from the Pistons coaching staff was to keep things simple and in the first period, a lot of good hard work down low resulted in a goal from Tyler Penner. The first time in the series Steinbach scored first. Mack Graham and Bradley Schoonbaert picked up the assists on the opening marker.
Just 56 seconds later, Cole Smith and Jordan Bochinski led the charge into the offensive zone, shot low and after a kick save by goalie Nathan Warren, it was Quintin Lisoway squeaking one just over the line to make it 2-0 Pistons.
It seemed the Pistons were in the driver’s seat going on the power play only minutes after making it a two-goal lead but Winkler would score shorthanded and cut the lead in half. On the same power play, Cole Smith snapped one home from the slot, giving the Pistons the 3-1 advantage. That’s how the opening period would end.
The second period saw the Flyers come storming back, showing no quit as they cut the lead again midway through the frame but it was Smith deflecting home a perfect wrist shot from Dan Taillefer to make it a two-goal lead again. Lisoway added the second assist on the goal. Winkler fought back and would bring themselves to within one on the power play and as the horn sounded, fans were glued to the edge of their seat with the scoreboard reading 4-3 for the home side.
Cue Hayden Goderis
Goderis along with linemates Denis Bosc and Luke Amsbaugh had done a terrific job all series long containing the Winkler Flyers and giving their defence fits with great cycling and puck control. 1:20 into the final period, Goderis was rewarded when he took a pass from Amsbaugh and ripped home a wrister giving Steinbach a big insurance goal as the lead swelled to 5-3.
Winkler seemed to run out of gas in the third period and even after pulling the goalie with around 2:30 to go in the game, they never got a good quality scoring chance again. And then hard work along the boards by Goderis freed the puck up and he went in to seal the deal into the yawning cage, securing the Pistons 6-3 win, punching their ticket to the Manitoba Junior Hockey League Finals for a second straight season.
Roman Bengert was again a key in the victory finishing with 17 saves on the night but had to extinguish several scoring chances by the Flyers when the game was hanging in the balance. Steinbach outshot Winkler 42-20 and 7-1 in the final 20 minutes of regulation. The power play finished 1-for-5 but did allow a shorthanded goal and the penalty kill went 2-for-3.
After putting their hard hats on to come back from that 3-1 series hole they put themselves in, the task doesn’t get any easier as for a second straight year, the Portage Terriers await. The finals are set to start on Friday. There will be a preview up on SteinbachOnline.com before the puck drops for game 1.