It was an historic day for the Winnipeg Freeze organization, as they scored their first goal in their club’s history and pushed the heavy favorite Steinbach Pistons into extra time. But it wouldn’t be enough as Codey Behun and Rylan Bettens scored in the shootout as Steinbach squeaked out a 5-4 win over the Freeze Saturday night.
Steinbach heavily outshot Winnipeg 51-21, but the Freeze were up to the task all night and put a scare into the Southeast Division leaders.
Simon Harkness picked up the win with 17 stops, while Freeze goalie Will Gurski had another strong outing making 47 saves in the loss.
The Pistons gave the TG Smith Centre crowd something to cheer about early with two goals in the first 2:08 of the game. Bettens tipped home a Christian Riemer point shot just twenty-eight seconds in to give Steinbach the early lead, with Behun adding the bonus assist.
Caden Triggs caught the Freeze defence, and Gurski, napping on a nice wraparound goal shortly after the Bettens marker and the Pistons were up 2-0.
But it seemed as if Steinbach thought it was going to be point night for everyone on the roster, which definitely was not the case once the second period began. Gurski kept his team in it, and then history happened as Brock MacDonald scored the first ever Winnipeg Freeze goal as his point shot floated past Harkness to cut the lead in half past the midway point of the middle frame.
Momentum clearly swung the Freeze way after Sam Court took an ill-advised major penalty for kneeing, giving Winnipeg a five-minute power play. Freeze forward Nathan Driver would tie the game up just nine seconds after the major began, and then MacDonald would strike again on another rebound goal to give the road team a 3-2 advantage with 5:43 left in the second.
Matt Osadick would quickly tie things up with a shorthanded goal with just over three to play in the second, stripping Gurski while the goalie was trying to play the puck, and the Maine commit wrapped around the goal and tucked the puck in for his 3rd of the season to tie things up at 3 heading into the period break.
The Freeze would get their lead right back just thirty-nine seconds into the third period on a goal from Ryland Hueging. But Steinbach would find an answer at the 4:50 mark, all thanks to their clutch goal scorer Behun who tipped a Riemer shot past Gurski knotting the game at 4s. Zac Patrick would grab the extra apple on Behun’s 2nd of the season.
Steinbach had a golden opportunity to take the lead with an extended 5-on-3 power play, but unlike last week could not capitalize on their man advantage chances. The Freeze hung in with great team defence and shot blocking to send the game into overtime.
After both teams killed off a penalty in the extra session, a shootout was needed as Behun started it off by beating Gurski five-hole. Harkness would stop his two Freeze shooters with nice save on each, and then Bettens ended the game with a wrister overtop the glove of Gurski to hand the Pistons the extra point and the 5-4 victory.
Steinbach went 0 for 6 with the man advantage, while the Freeze connected twice on four power play opportunities. Driver’s power play goal in the second period broke a streak of 36 straight kills by the Pistons PK unit, dating back to the beginning of the 2020 MJHL Playoffs.
UP NEXT: These two teams cap off their four-game, two-week series tomorrow afternoon at the Rink Training Centre. Catch the game live on HockeyTV, or on your radio at MIX 96 and Steinbachonline.com.