Troy Williams and Riley Vautour 47 seconds apart in the third period, with Vautour potting the game-winner as the Pistons beat the Swan Valley Stampeders 3-2 to open the MJHL semifinal series.
Matt Radomsky put forward a solid performance, as he made 42 saves in the win. Stampeders goalie Merek Pipes made 28 saves in the loss. The Pistons lead the best-of-7 second round series 1-0.
The Pistons came out slow in the first period as they adjusted to the fast paced style of the Stampeders. However they did pick up the first goal of the game thanks to their captain Tyson McConnell. McConnell forced the puck from underneath Pipes on a net-front scramble, and slipped the puck past the pad of the Swan Valley goalie to give the Pistons a 1-0 lead 5:02 in. Troy Beauchemin and Max Neill picked up the assists on McConnell’s 4th of the postseason.
Swan pushed the pace in the first period, and tilted the ice in their favour for much of the first period. Quintin Sudom equalized for the Stampeders with 6:13 left in the first, as he snapped a shot from the slot that beat the glove of Radomsky.
A scary play happened with 14 seconds left in the opening period, as Josh Maucieri ran over Radomsky in behind his own goal. The Holy Cross commit was down on the ice for a few minutes, but picked himself up and remained in the game. Maucieri received a five-minute major for a blow to the head, and was done for the night as he picked up a game misconduct as well.
The collision sparked the visiting Pistons, as they picked up their play in the second period after being outshot 17-9 in the first period. But the Stampeders took the lead 5:16 into the frame as Troy Quinn beat a screened Radomsky for a 2-1 Swan lead.
Steinbach pushed back in the second as they outshot the Stamps 11-9 in the middle frame, but it remained 2-1 for the home side after 40 minutes.
Although the Stamps outshot the Pistons 18-11 in the final frame, Steinbach owned the third period thanks to their newfound energy and spirit as they rallied to make a comeback.
Max Neill forced a turnover as he hit big 6’7” defenceman Tanner Glasrud. He played the puck to Easton Bennett, and he found Troy Williams on the left point. Williams through a shot on goal that found its way past Pipes and in to tie the game at two 4:19 into the third period. Williams picked up his first goal of the postseason, and Neill notched his second assist of the game which gives him his first two career playoff points.
Troy Quinn took a hooking penalty shortly after, and the Pistons power play struck on the rush. Williams and Brendan Martin combined to find a streaking Vautour down the right wing, and the 20-year-old ripped a wicked wrister that beat Pipes clean to the short side to regain the lead for the Pistons. Vautour picked up his first career MJHL playoff goal, and Williams picked up his second point of the night with the helper.
Swan fired shots on Radomsky, but none were quality chances and the Pistons were able to lock down the Stamps to steal home ice advantage with a 3-2 win.
JOHNSON RETURNS TO THE BACK END
The Pistons welcomed 20-year-old defenceman Doug Johnson back into the lineup for Steinbach after missing the last three games with a lower body injury. The Darien, Conneticut native spent most of the night paired with Caydin Cleland, but played big minutes as the Pistons retained their one-goal lead.
Steinbach went 1 for 4 on the power play, while their penalty kill was a perfect 6 for 6.
UP NEXT: The Pistons will look to take a 2-0 series lead back to Steinbach, as Game #2 goes tomorrow night in Swan River. The puck drops at 7:30 pm and you can listen to the game on MIX 96 and Steinbachonline.com, or watch it on HockeyTV.