The bid for the 2023 Centennial Cup has come to a close after the Steinbach Pistons fell to the Battlefords North Stars 3-1, eliminating them from playoff contention.
After the first three games of the tournament produced a 1-1-1 record, the MJHL Champions needed a regulation win in order to punch their ticket to the quarter-finals.
Knowing what was on the line, the Pistons set a tone early as Landon Roberts came out and ran over several North Stars players with clean, hard, bone-rattling hits which energized the bench and the large contingent of Pistons supporters in attendance.
After a raucous start, things settled in and the teams took turns trading taking penalties that would prove costly for Steinbach, as they surrendered the game's opening goal.
That 1-0 lead for Battlefords would hold through the first period and into intermission.
In the second, Steinbach continued to push, shift after shift, generating some good looks to tie the game but just couldn't find the back of the net.
In the third, desperation for Steinbach started to ramp up. They directed lots of pucks toward the net and finally were rewarded.
Noah Szabo, who earned a ton of respect and opened a lot of eyes during a very impressive tournament showing, floated a puck on goal and managed to find a hole in the goalie to tie the game 1-1.
With that energy spurring them on, it looked as though Steinbach would grab the lead. A pretty tic-tac-toe play was executed to perfection but a tournament-best save from the Norths Stars goalie kept it 1-1.
On a seemingly harmless play, the North Stars grabbed the lead after directing a puck towards the net which hit off a stick and in to give them a 2-1 lead with just over three minutes to go in the game.
Needing to win in regulation and now facing a large uphill climb, the Pistons pulled the goalie but couldn't get the game evened up and an empty netter from the SJHL Champions sealed the deal, sending the Pistons out of the Centennial Cup tournament.
Dominik Wasik time and time again kept his team in games with some huge, timely saves, did all the could in all four games but was nailed with the loss.
The Steinbach Pistons season has come to an end.
20-year-old players that will graduate are Davin Griffin, Dominik Wasik, Langley Kruggel, Landon Roberts, Ian Amsbaugh, Josh Nelson, Travis Hensrud, and captain Dawson Milliken.