Hunter Cloutier scored the winner 5:10 into the third period, as the Virden Oil Capitals used a great defensive game-plan to win Game 1 of the MJHL Turnbull Cup Final with a 2-1 victory over the Steinbach Pistons.
The Pistons find themselves trailing in a series for the first time in the playoffs. Riley McVeigh stopped 37 of 38 shots for the Oil Caps in the victory, while Matthew Thiessen made 28 saves in the loss.
“It wasn’t good enough,” said captain Braden Purtill after the game. “We showed some compete and resiliency in the third, but in the first two periods we needed to come out with more tenacity. We didn’t show that, and it cost us.”
It was a slow start to the hockey game, as both teams looked lethargic out of the gates. There was no scoring, but the Pistons had the best chance in the period. Purtill intercepted a pass intended for a Virden defender, and chipped it into the neutral zone on a breakaway. He was denied by McVeigh trying to put one upstairs on the backhand.
Declan Graham got a chance early in the second to put Steinbach ahead, and slapped one right of the outside of the post in the slot. Rylee Zimmer of the Oil Caps opened the scoring, as he took a pass from Landyn Cochrane over the blue line and beat Thiessen short-side. The goal is his 6th of the playoffs from Cochrane and Justin Lee at 11:08 of the second.
Tristan Culleton got caught pinching in the neutral zone, and the Oil Caps made the Pistons pay as Jeran Knorr threw it over to Cloutier on a 2-on-1. Cloutier buried it past a sprawling Thiessen to make it 2-0. Graeme Hore picked up the secondary assist at 5:10.
The Pistons got it to within a goal, as Mark Taraschuk walked in on the left wing. His slapshot deflected off a Virden defender’s stick, and the puck bounced past McVeigh getting Steinbach to within one. Easton Bennett and Brady Tatro picked up assists on Taraschuk’s 4th of the playoffs at 6:40 of the third.
However, the Pistons would not get a good enough scoring chance the rest of the way, as the Oil Caps defense prevented an equalizing goal.
“They just wanted it more than we did,” Purtill said. “They came in prepared, and you have to give them props for that. They used their speed and our mistakes to their advantage.”
It was a clean Game 1, as only 3 penalties were called in the game. Steinbach went 0 for 2 on their man advantages, while killing off one Virden power play.
UP NEXT: Game 2 goes Sunday night in Virden, with puck drop scheduled for 7:30 pm. Game 3 will be back at the TG Smith Centre at 7:30 pm, you can already reserve your tickets for that game online at Steinbachpistons.ca.