After capturing the Anavet Cup over the Nipawin Hawks earlier in May, the Pistons made their way to the national Junior ‘A’ championship, held annually across the country.
Starting the tournament off against the Wenatchee Wild, Steinbach picked up an early lead, but following back-to-back third period strikes, ultimately fell to its British Columbia Hockey League counterparts, 4-3, in its opening game of the week.
Luke Bellerose, Austin Heidemann and Daniel McKitrick had goals for the Pistons Sunday, while Matthew Thiessen stopped 28 of 32 shots in the loss.
The Pistons were back at it Monday evening, as they took on Ontario’s Wellington Dukes in their second game of the tournament. Once again, the Manitobans struck first, picking up the game’s two opening goals in the second period. But as continued to be the case, the Pistons squandered their lead with Wellington goals in the second and third periods.
Steinbach goaltender Matthew Thiessen went down with an apparent lower-body injury in the late stages of the second period. Matthew Radomsky came into action in relief, stopping 11 of 13 pucks. Unfortunately for the Pistons, his 11 saves weren’t enough.
The third period ended in a draw, extending the game to an extra period of play. It took Wellington just 59 seconds to score the game winner, as Ted McGreen roofed the final shot of the game short-side on a quick break up ice.
Riese Gaber and Darby Gula picked up Steinbach’s goals Monday, while Easton Bennett, Drew Worrad and Mark Wilson collected assists in the Pistons’ second game of the tournament.
Steinbach will now face off against the Ottawa Junior Senators at 9:00 P.M. Wednesday. It will be Ottawa’s fourth game of the RBC Cup, as the Junior Senators also lost to the Wenatchee Wild after losing to host Chilliwack Chiefs, and beating the Wellington Dukes.
It’s do-or-die time for the Pistons, as since the tournament changed over to its current five-team format in 1990, four teams move on to the semifinals. No team with two wins has ever missed the final four, so wins in Steinbach’s next two games could prove instrumental in their case for the final four.
Following Wednesday’s contest, the Pistons will play the final game of the round robin on Thursday against the host Chilliwack (2-0-1). All RBC Cup games are available to watch for purchase on hockeytv.com.