Jack Kilroy scored the game winning goal with 9:36 remaining in double overtime as the Steinbach Pistons advanced to the second round of the MJHL playoffs with a thrilling 4-3 Game #6 win.
It was an amazing display of hockey from both sides, with the two teams going back and forth all game long. Kilroy’s goal gave the Pistons the shot edge as well with a 43-42 advantage.
Matt Radomsky put forward his best game of the series as he made 39 saves, including three crucial game savers. Blues goalie Jeremy Link also made 39 saves, but ends up in the losing column in his final junior game.
In a defensive first period, the Blues got on the board first as Tony Apetagon notched his second goal of the playoffs at the 11:40 mark to put Winnipeg on top.
The Pistons equalized with 15 seconds left, as Boedey Vaeth forced a turnover behind the Winnipeg goal. Vaeth threw a centering pass onto the stick of Tyson McConnell, and the captain pounded his third of the playoffs into the back of the net to tie the game heading into the first intermission.
The Blues got their one goal lead back, as Riley Cusack wound up from the point. His shot was tipped in the high slot by Apetagon, and the puck went through the wickets of Radomsky at the 7:28 mark of the second period.
Steinbach tied it up again, as a nice breakout play by Easton Bennett and Brendan Westbrook sent Kyle Bettens in one-on-one on a Blues defender. He beat his man to the front of the net, and pushed the puck through the five-hole of Link with one hand to tie the game with five minutes left in the second.
The Pistons thought they had taken the lead shortly after, as Carter Loney drove in hard on the Blues goal. The puck was stopped but then bounced off of the Steinbach call-up and in. But the referee called the goal back, as it was deemed Loney had interfered with Link and was subsequently given a two minute minor. But the road team killed it off and went into the second intermission tied at two.
Steinbach took the lead thanks to their leading regular season scorer. Brendan Martin jammed the puck past Link on a net-mouth scramble 2:05 into the third to give the Pistons a 3-2 lead.
After killing off a five minute major penalty, the Blues tied it up with 8:15 to go as Sulivan Shortreed tipped in a Darren Gisti point shot underneath the left pad of Radomsky.
The teams went into overtime for the first time in the series, and Radomsky stole the show. While killing off a Brendan Martin high-sticking penalty, the Winnipeg native stoned Shortreed in tight with a big blocker save. And then the Blues had a chance to win it, but Troy Beauchemin broke up a cross-ice pass into the screen on what could have been a sure goal.
Head Coach Paul Dyck shortened his bench to just three lines and two D pairings for the most of overtime. But after an icing and a timeout, he sent out his fourth line which included Kilroy and Beauchemin for an offensive zone faceoff.
The faceoff was scrummed and pushed in behind the Blues goal. Beauchemin beat everyone to the puck, put a beauty pass out to Kilroy, and the Denver native roofed the puck for his first of the postseason to send the Pistons and their fans delirious inside the Iceplex.
Jack Kilroy joined an exclusive club in Pistons history, as he becomes the third man to score an overtime series winner. Cole Smith (2016) and Mark Taraschuk (2018) are the other two Steinbach players to accomplish the feat, with both of those coming in the first round against the Swan Valley Stampeders.
LONEY JOINS PISTONS
The Pistons called up F Carter Loney after his season concluded for the Rink Hockey Academy National Midget Prep team this past weekend in Penticton. He suited up in Game #6, and its expected he will be with the Pistons for the remainder of the playoffs.
Pistons F David Queree left the game in the middle of the second period after a scary collision involving Blues D Griffin Chwaliboga, and did not return to the game. However, it appears it is not a serious injury, and he could be available for Round #2 against Swan Valley.
Forward Boedey Vaeth also went down for Steinbach in the third period after a hit from behind by Blues F James Maxwell. Vaeth made his way to the bench, but did not miss a shift. Maxwell received a five minute major penalty for a blow to the head and a game misconduct on the play.
Both teams did not score on the power play, the Pistons went 0 for 4 and the Blues went 0 for 5.
UP NEXT: The Pistons will face the #2 seeded Swan Valley Stampeders in the second round of the playoffs, and will begin on the road. The Stamps swept the Dauphin Kings in their first round series. Stay tuned to Steinbachpistons.ca and all Pistons social media outletsfor the series schedule and for when tickets will be available for Games #3-4.