The Steinbach Pistons are the 2023 Manitoba Junior Hockey League Turnbull Cup Champions.
The Centennial Arena in Steinbach was filled to capacity Saturday night, for game 5 of the MJHL finals, with the Pistons leading the series 3 games to 1 against the Virden Oil Capitals.
Fans for both teams cheered on their players throughout the game. After three periods of full-throttle hockey, the Pistons beat the Oilcaps 3-0. The third shutout of the series for goalie, Dominic Wasik.
The championship win Saturday night was the Piston's third Turnbull Cup with Paul Dyck as head coach of the team.
Dyck says that it’s always special to win, but this one was extra special, "because maybe some people doubted that the team could do it. I’m just really proud of the players, for the growth and the perseverance they showed. They weren't going to be denied."
Referring to winning in the Centennial Arena, Dyck says, "Personally, this is incredible. Like, I couldn't write a better script, right? You know, you grow up playing in this building and we're all excited for a new building, but there are tremendous memories in here and we've hoisted a couple of trophies in here and now and to end it this way, we couldn't have written a better script, to be honest with you. This arena has been a big part of the fabric of our community so this is going to be amazing memory, no question.”
Dyck thanks the Pistons fans, who have been a huge part of the team winning in Steinbach. He says players hear about how the city has best fans and they get here and the environment is incredible.
“The support that they have felt all year long, whether it's going to the coffee shop or being in the schools, it's been nothing but support for this team. So at the end of the day, those are going to be some of their greatest memories. It's not even going to be what took place on the ice. It's the interaction with the fans and the children in the schools and the various charities that were involved with, so yeah, when you're a Piston it's certainly more than just scoring goals.”
To his players, Coach says, “I'm so proud of them. They have really started to understand, you know, the benefits of believing in each other as a group and working together as one, towards a collective goal. And those are some things that they're going to take into their adulthood, hopefully. And you'll be great employees for those reasons too. But right now, our work's not done. Our journey ends in Portage and we'd love it to end there with another trophy.”
Among the thousand-plus fans was Steinbach's Mayor Earl Funk who tried to describe how he felt about the win.
“You know what, my heart is exactly, completely full right now. Like, it means so much for just the way it ended.”
Funk explains, “When the regular season came to an end and the playoffs started, my wife Lori came to me and she said, “Wouldn't it be great if the Pistons won everything? That they’d win the cup here and have a huge win in the old Centennial Arena for the last time? Like 10 years after their first time.” And I said “Yeah, it would be awesome and that would be a storybook ending”. And we got our storybook ending. This is one that will go down in the sports history books for Steinbach. This is probably the best win that we've had here.”
Funk gives a shout-out to the Pistons fans. “We have the best fans in the entire country and we had a sellout crowd tonight supporting them. It was packed in here. It was just incredible to be here tonight. This feeling, you know, it won't go away very fast. We'll remember it forever. And this is one of those things that we will take with us. It'll change the way we look at sports in our community forever and ever.”
The mayor continues, “I want to thank everyone for the way they've supported the Pistons. I want to thank the boys for playing with such heart and making it such a great sport to watch in our community. But I do like the fans, just that culture of hockey that we have in our community. I love our fans. I appreciate them so much and I thank them for coming out and supporting the team the way they did. It's just been incredible. And that's not really knowing what to say, because my heart is full.”
Steinbach Piston Dawson Milliken was named MVP is the series.