Mullen Scores Double OT, Pistons Lead Nighthawks 3-0

Content Provided By: Steinbach Online


It was an edge-of-the-seat, back-and-forth thriller on Tuesday night between the Steinbach Pistons and Niverville Nighthawks, capped off by an overtime winner from Kirk Mullen, giving Steinbach a 3-2 win and a 3-0 series lead.

The first period was a defensive battle. No time or space for either team to do much in the way of gaining momentum or offensive opportunities.

Raiden Legall of Niverville faced 9 shots while Cole Plowman of Steinbach saw just 4.

After a scoreless opening period, the Pistons managed to break through in the second.

Leo Chambers drove hard to the net and after the original chance was stopped, he stuck with it and jammed home his first of the postseason, putting Steinbach up 1-0 less than five minutes into the frame. Grady Hoffman and Trey Sauder were given the assists.

Plowman’s save of the night came off a teammate. A Nighthawk directed a shot toward the goal and accidently hit a Pistons stick in front changing direction. Plowman reacted quickly and made the save, keeping his club in the lead.

Niverville would answer back off a beautiful faceoff play in the offensive zone. Ty Kennett won the draw clean back to sniper Michael Debrito who wired a shot to the back of the net for his first of the playoffs, knotting the game a 1-1.

Legall did everything in his power to keep the score tied as he made massive save after game-saving save, keeping the Pistons from breaking the game open.

With under three minutes to go in the period, a rush from speedy Adam Vigfusson caused confusion in the Pistons zone and after he was stopped, 18-year-old Luke MacKenzie was there to clean up the rebound, giving the Nighthawks their first lead of the series, 2-1.

In the third, the Pistons pressed for the equalizer eventually finding it off a broken play in front of the net.

Off a won faceoff by Chambers, Hoffman sifted a pass up to Noah Szabo. The Nighthawks defense hyper-focused on Hoffman who drove to the net, allowing Szabo to walk in and put a shot toward the net. The shot was blocked but the bouncing puck found the stick of Hoffman and he made no mistake, scoring his first career MJHL playoff goal.

Again, Legall was tested time and time again but continued to be a wall. Not to be outdone, Plowman made some timely saves as well as both goalies held the fort and the 2-2 game would need overtime.

Steinbach had a glorious chance to end the game in the first overtime when they earned a power play. The Nighthawks penalty killers, perfect in the series to that point, left it all on the line and with the help of more big saves from Legall, managed to kill off the infraction and get the game back to 5-on-5.

In the final minute, it was Niverville that pushed back trying to find a way to the back of the net. They pressured but Steinbach’s defense held strong, forcing the game into double overtime.

Early in the second extra frame, the Nighthawks took a boarding penalty, putting Steinbach to the man advantage for the second time in overtime.

This opportunity, Steinbach would not waste.

Kirk Mullen started the play off by sealing the wall as Niverville tried to clear the zone. Mullen knocked the puck down to Sauder who hit a streaking David Cote on the far side. As soon as Cote took the pass, Mullen buzzed his way to the goal, calling for the pass. Cote hesitated just long enough to force the Nighthawks to commit to him, then dished it over to Mullen who tapped it into the wide open net, sealing the Steinbach victory.

The power play goal was Steinbach’s first of the series. For Mullen, it’s his 3rd goal in as many games.

Cole Plowman finished with 25 saves while Raiden Legall made 43, getting the games 3rd star.

After the game, Head Coach Paul Dyck said he was happy with the result and the resolve his team showed getting the job done after going down in the second period.

“I didn’t really love our second period but in the third, we started to play with more pace,” the long time bench boss said. “We gained some momentum and I think the guys started to believe that we could at least tie it up and take it into overtime. You could feel the energy change on the bench.”

Captain Leo Chambers finished the night with two points including his first of the playoffs and he says the message in the locker room after the second was important coming from the leadership group. “Diesel (Hunter Degelman) said in the room, this can be good for a younger team, having to battle and face a little adversity. We came back in the third to tie it up and grind it out in OT. Beautiful feed from Dave to Kirk to finish it off.”

The 20-year-old adds while the win is huge, they’re not at 4 wins yet and the 4th is going to be the hardest to earn. “We got to stay even keeled. Being up 3-0, it’s easy to get complacent. We had it happen last year to us a couple of times in a couple of different series. We know it’s going to be a huge battle and we have to be ready to go.”

Game 4 is in Niverville at the CRRC with a 7:30 pm puck drop.