On an emotional night where tears were shed in a moving pre-game ceremony to honour the memories of those who were lost in the Humboldt Broncos tragedy last Friday, the Virden Oil Capitals won Game 2 with a 4-3 home victory over the Steinbach Pistons Thursday night in Virden.
The Oil Caps go up 2-0 in the best-of-7 MJHL Final with the victory. Landyn Cochrane tipped in a Justin Lee point shot with 4:12 to go in the third period for the game-winner. Virden netminder Riley McVeigh stopped 40 shots in the win, while Matthew Thiessen made 30 saves in the loss.
Both the Pistons and Oil Caps wore “Broncos” on the back of the jerseys in memory of the 16 players, coaches, and team personnel who lost their lives in a tragic bus accident last Friday. Most players also laced up their skates with yellow or green laces as well.
The Pistons came out firing, as after a Jack Johnson shot was stopped by McVeigh, an uncontrolled rebound lay at the feet of Will Koop, who banged the puck into the net just 1:12 into the opening frame. The goal is Koop’s 2nd of the playoffs from Johnson and the returning Austin Heidemann.
The Pistons outshot the Oil Caps 16-8 in the first, and had two great chances to extend that lead on powerplays, but it remained 1-0 after 20 minutes.
It remained 1-0 until Graeme Hore stuffed one past Thiessen at the side of the net to knot it up for Virden with just over 2 minutes to play in the second period. Jeran Knorr picked up the lone assist on Hore’s 2nd of the playoffs.
Virden thought they had taken the lead at the end of the second period on a Devon Becker shot, but the referees said that the horn had gone to end play, therefore it was 1-1 after 40 minutes.
What ensued in the third period was a back-and-forth, call and answer frame where both teams traded heavyweight blows. First, the Oil Caps took the lead as Tristen Cross worked in from the left point and tucked the puck over the right shoulder of Thiessen at 5:35. Rylee Zimmer and Kirklan Lycar picked up the helpers on Cross’ 2nd of the postseason.
Steinbach responded just 1:04 later, as Jack Johnson tipped home a Mark Taraschuk point shot to tie it up at 2. Johnson picked up his 2nd of the playoffs in his first game of the series, and had a solid 2 point effort in Virden.
With 6:38 left, a great passing play in the slot by Tyson McConnell and Tanner Mole set up Easton Bennett, who sniped one bardown to give the Pistons the lead. Bennett notched his 2nd of the playoffs from Mole and McConnell.
But just 45 seconds later, a hard point shot by Marco Creta was deflected in the goal by Rylee Zimmer to tie it up with 5:53 to play. Zimmer had a great night for Virden, scoring a goal and two assists on the night. That led to the Lee point shot being tipped through the five-hole of Thiessen by Cochrane to give the Oil Caps the lead, and eventually the win and a 2-0 series lead.
Both teams did not score on the power play; the Pistons went 0 for 4, and the Oil Caps went 0 for 3.
UP NEXT: The Pistons will look to get their first win of the final series on Saturday night in Game 3 back at the TG Smith Centre. The puck is scheduled to be dropped at 7:30 pm, with the Pistons hosting a pre-game ceremony to honour the Humboldt Broncos. Read this link at Steinbachpistons.ca for more ticket information.