The Steinbach Pistons needed a big win and that's just what they got in game 3 of the best of 7 Turnbull Trophy final defeating the Virden Oil Capitals 5-3 on Saturday night.
Before the game got underway, there was a ceremony for the Humboldt Broncos. Both teams lined up along the blue lines and were joined by minor hockey league players wearing both Millers jerseys and Oil Capitals as well. After a video tribute, there was a 16 second moment of silence.
For a second consecutive game, the Pistons opened the scoring early as just over two minutes as Tristan Culleton ripped a point shot that hit a man in front and found the back of the net giving Steinbach a 1-0 lead. Tyson McConnell had the lone assist on the goal.
Steinbach had a chance to push the lead to 2-0 after Austin Heidemann was hauled down on a breakaway and awarded a penalty shot. The rookie moved in but his backhander was turned away, keeping it 1-0 Steinbach.
The Oil Caps had their chances in the first as the Pistons cut a steady stream to the penalty box racking up four consecutive minor penalties.
After killing off one of those minor penalties, the Oil Caps were able to keep the pressure up and after a loose puck found the stick of Justin Lee, the defender buried the wrist shot to tie the game 1-1.
The tie didn't last long, however, as Bradley Schoonbaert took a pretty drop pass from Drew Worrad and scored his 5th of the playoffs, giving the Pistons their lead back. Heidemann along with Worrad collected the assists on the 2-1 goal.
In the second, an early power play for Steinbach pushed the lead to 3-1 as Schoonbaert notched his second goal of the game and 6th of the postseason from Heidemann and Worrad.
Pistons netminder Matthew Thiessen was sensational all evening long making 12 stops in the first and continuing his strong play in the second making a couple of big saves as Virden started to turn the tables and gain momentum.
The Virden persistence eventually paid off when a point shot was deflected in by Graeme Hore, the forward's second goal in as many games, giving the Oil Caps life and making it a one-goal game, 3-2.
The lead evaporated as Kirklan Lycar tied the game after making a nice move in a one on one and buried a backhander with less than a minute remaining in the period.
In the third, a special moment and a huge goal on several levels as Daniel McKitrick buried a loose puck on a power play to give the Pistons a 4-3 lead. McKitrick spent time during the week in Humbolt with old teammates and after scoring the goal pointed to the heavens in honour of the fallen. Darby Gula and Mark Taraschuk had the assists on the goal.
Later in the frame, a nice three on two rush, Schoonbaert set up Mark Wilson in the slot for a golden chance but Wilson fired the shot high which bounced off the glass, off the top of the net and rested in the crease. Worrad rushed over and chipped in a backhander to give the Pistons their two-goal lead once again.
A couple of scary moments for Steinbach as the third continued on as Will Koop caught an edge and went awkwardly into the boards and was in immense pain immediately and went off to the locker room and did not return.
Also late in the third, Drew Worrad got tangled up and fell awkwardly. Worrad was able to make it off the ice from an apparent lower-body injury but did skate off after the game on his own and appeared upbeat after the game.
Virden never really got anything going in the third after Steinbach went up 5-3 and that's how game 3 ended. The Turnbull Cup Final is now at 2-1 Virden heading back to Tundra Oil And Gas Place on Monday night.
Thiessen made 35 saves on the night including many on the penalty kill. The power play finished 2-7 while the penalty kill was a sparkling 7-7. Both teams combined for a total of 19 penalties combining for 46 minutes.