Despite going down early, the Steinbach Pistons slowly took over control of the game and thanks to a pair of goals from Zac Patrick, managed to storm back to defeat the Selkirk Steelers 5-3 on Friday night.
Before some fans had even had a chance to sit down, 37 seconds into the game, the Steelers grabbed a 1-0 lead.
That lead for the home team would grow to 2-0 before the midway point of the first.
Steinbach would start their climb back a few minutes later. A good, hardworking shift forced the Steelers back on their heels. The Pistons pushed, threw their weight around and refused to let the puck out of the zone. As the pressure built, the puck found it's way to the point where Langley Kruggel fired a rocket towards the goal that managed to hit off Dawson Milliken and in to cut the lead to 2-1.
Milliken's 17th of the season was the final goal of the period as Steinbach went into the break down by just one.
In the second period, the Pistons continued to pile up chances but despite owning the puck and the play, they couldn't get the puck over the goal line.
With under five minutes to go, finally the Pistons converted. A strong rush up the ice by Cooper Rice forced the Steelers defence back into their zone. Rice slammed on the breaks, reversed, gave himself some space and then fired a pass over to Travis Hensrud who tapped in his 17th of the year to knot the game at 2-2.
Through 40 minutes, the Pistons held a big advantage in shots, 25-13 but the game went into the third all tied up.
It stayed tied less than five minutes into the final frame as the Steelers grabbed the lead back, 3-2.
Down a goal and the Pistons needing a little magic, that's when the captain took over.
Zac Patrick picked up a loose puck in the neutral zone, turned on the jets and snaked his way through the Steelers defenders. Patrick fired a lazer along the ice that beat the goalie clean for his 5th of the year, pulling the Pistons back to even at 3-3.
Just a couple minutes later while on a power play, Patrick would strike again as the 20-year-old defender fired a shot from the point that rang off the post and in for his second of the game. It was Patrick's first multi-goal game of the season and it put Steinbach ahead 4-3.
Selkirk did have a chance with a power play of their own late in the third but Steinbach's aggressive penalty kill kept the Steelers from getting anything and it remained a one goal game.
In the final minute with the Selkirk net empty, Hensrud managed to fight the puck away from the Steelers forwards and fired a put towards the open net. Rice along with a defender hustled after the slow moving puck and Rice helped it deflect off the diving Steelers defender and in for his 14th of the campaign.
For a 4th straight game, the Pistons scored an empty net goal. The Rice insurance marker made it a 5-3 game and that's how it would end.
Will Hambley picked up his 20th win making 18 saves on the night.
Steinbach's power play finished 1-3 while the penalty kill was a perfect 4-4.
With the victory, Steinbach becomes the first team in the MJHL to officially clinch a playoff spot.
The Pistons are in action again on Saturday night when they take on the Winnipeg Freeze.
Monday afternoon will see the Pistons at home against the Steelers. The game will be without capacity limits but proof of vaccination is still required to attend the game. Pistons vs Steelers will be broadcast on MIX 96 and SteinbachOnline.com with the pre-game show at 2:15 pm and puck drop at 2:30 pm.
Fans will be treated to a skate with the Pistons after the game on Monday afternoon. Families are encouraged to bring their skates and stay after the game.