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Bradley Schoonbaert celebrating after Drew Worrad's series-clinching goal in the third period during Game 6. (Photo courtesy: Adi Loewen)

Pistons off to Turnbull Cup Final after hard fought win over Blues

Drew Worrad scored the game-winner on a breakaway with 9:53 to go in the third period, and Brady Tatro and Braden Purtill scored in the first and second periods to lift the Steinbach Pistons past the Winnipeg Blues 3-2 Sunday night to book their ticket to the MJHL Turnbull Cup Final.

Matthew Thiessen and Jeremy Link were outstanding in net for both sides, with Thiessen making 33 saves in the win and Link stopping 43 of 46 Steinbach shots in the loss.

The Blues were undefeated at the BellMTS Iceplex in these 2018 MJHL playoffs, so the Pistons were in for a tough game less than 24 hours after their 3-0 Game 5 win yesterday. After the Blues outshot the Pistons 5-1 to start the game, Steinbach found their legs and registered 8 consecutive shots, but none beat the red-hot Link in the Blues net.

After Nathan Hillis of the Blues was called for a roughing minor, the Pistons struck quickly on the man advantage as Brady Tatro tipped in a Braden Purtill point shot for the 1-0 lead. Mark Wilson picked up an extra assist on Tatro’s 4th of the playoffs with 3:42 left in the first.

The Blues tied it up thanks to a lucky bounce early in the second frame, as Brendan Kochanski flipped the puck on the Piston net from the blue line. The puck was bouncing towards Thiessen, and it hopped over his goal stick and into the goal as he was looking to play the puck in the corner. Kochanski picked up his 1st goal of the playoffs from Cam Olstad at the 2:45 mark.

The Pistons went on their 2nd power play opportunity on the night, and Braden Purtill took a breakout pass from Darby Gula in his own zone, and said to the Blues penalty kill unit ‘Try and stop me.’ He rushed up the ice, beat all 4 Blues in the neutral zone, and deked Link and slid the puck past the glove to give his team the lead right back at the 13:25 mark. Purtill now has 5 goals in the playoffs, which is a team high during the playoffs for Steinbach.

With the game in the balance in the third period, Blues forward Dale Goodbrandson bobbled the puck at the blue line covering for a pinching Winnipeg defender, and Drew Worrad chipped it past him and went in on a 2-on-1 rush with Bradley Schoonbaert. Worrad moved his way to the middle of the slot past a sprawling Brendan Bartlett and fired it top corner past Link for a huge insurance marker. Worrad’s 3rd of the playoffs was unassisted, and he now leads the Pistons with 12 playoff points.

The Blues killed off a late Pistons power play, and got their own man advantage with under a minute to go, but just ran out of time. Bartlett scored his 3rd of the playoffs for Winnipeg from Dexter Kuczek to pull them within one, but the goal was with 8 seconds to play. The final horn sounded as the Pistons poured off the bench to congratulate Matthew Thiessen on the series victory.

SPECIAL TEAMS

The Pistons went 2 for 5 on the power play, while the Blues went 1 for 4.

UP NEXT: The Pistons will lock horns with the second-seeded Virden Oil Capitals in the 2018 MJHL Turnbull Cup Final. It’s the first time in MJHL history that Virden and Steinbach will meet in a playoff series. Stay tuned to Steinbachpistons.ca and all Pistons social media pages for the full series schedule, as well as a full Turnbull Cup Final series preview.