Oil Caps fall 2-1 to Pistons in Game 6, lose series 4-2
An Oil Caps season many fans won’t soon forget unfortunately came to an end on Saturday night in front of another packed house at Tundra Oil and Gas Place.
In what was a hard-fought, tightly-contested battle from start to finish, it was the Steinbach Pistons who came out on top in Game 6, defeating the Oil Caps 2-1. With the victory, the Pistons won the best-of-seven series 4-2 and are this year’s MJHL champions.
“I give a lot of credit to Steinbach, they’re a great team and they did a lot of great things tonight,” said Oil Caps head coach and GM Troy Leslie. “They blocked a lot of shots tonight and that’s what championship teams do. I’m very proud of our guys. We battled hard all year.”
All the scoring happened in the first period as the Oil Caps would get on the board first as Ben Dalke netted his eighth goal of the playoffs on the power play at the 14:18 mark, giving the home team a 1-0 lead and lifting the 1,500 fans out of their seats.
The celebrations for the home team were short lived however as the Pistons responded quickly, scoring twice in a span of 41 seconds as Riese Gaber’s fourth goal of the playoffs at 14:54 made it 1-1 before Brendan Martin would net the eventual game winner at the 15:35 mark.
“I just think the bounces really didn’t go our way tonight,” said Oil Caps netminder Riley McVeigh, who made several highlight reel saves throughout the contest to keep his team in the game. “I feel like, even in this series, the last four games, there was a lot of luck on their side and things just weren’t bouncing for us. But that’s the game of hockey. A couple different bounces and we definitely could’ve been on the other side of this.”
Matthew Thiessen made 25 saves to pick up the win in net for the Pistons.
Reflections on the year
First up, Troy Leslie. Here’s his thoughts on the year:
“We started talking to our guys in the summer and they were very committed for this year. This was the furthest we’ve been thus far so it’s good for the entire organization to go through this process. Hopefully we can keep building. Looking back through the year, it was a very entertaining brand of hockey this team played. We moved the puck very well, scored lots of goals 5-on-5 which is something that we wanted to be better at this year. Our special teams were solid all year too. With the amount of young guys we had in our lineup and the amount of experience that we had, I thought we were able to bring this together quite well and compete.”
What it meant to be in an MJHL final:
“To get to the championship final is a really good thing for Virden, the community and the hockey club as a whole. With packing the barn like this, you hope you gain some new fans here and that’s what it’s all about. I hope the community is proud of these guys because they played their hearts out. It’s a tough way to see it all end.”
“It was a great ride. This is my third year in a row being in the finals. It’s kind of hard to put into words right now but I love every one of those guys. I really felt at home here. Guys made me feel at home when I got traded here. The organization, that includes the billets, coaches, I have nothing but great things to say.”
“We had a goal at the start of the year to get here and play in the finals and we did. We didn’t get the outcome we wanted but each and every guy in here has to keep their head up. I’m so proud of every guy in this room and how hard they worked this year and how hard we battled.”
“I thought we had a hell of a year. Not many get to this point obviously. Especially getting right to the finals, right to the end of Game 6 where it’s a one goal game. Not many people get that far, so it’s definitely something I’ll cherish for the rest of my life and remember. It’s just a great group of guys. I wouldn’t have wanted to do it with anyone else.”
“It was definitely a fun group of guys to be with; definitely one of the closer groups of guys I’ve been with in my entire life. I’ve built friendships for the rest of my life. It was an amazing year though.”
“It was the best season I’ve ever had here. Of my four seasons, this was the closest team we’ve had and I wouldn’t have wanted to finish my junior career with any other guys.”
“I love each and everyone of the guys. There was a lot of ups and downs but we managed to work our butts off. I think all the 7:30 a.m. drylands paid off I think (laughing). It was good, it helped us push through and get to this point. It’s just a tough pill to swallow. It’s been a heck of a ride though. I love coming to the rink and playing every single game was a blast. I’m going to miss it a lot.”
“Some of the guys that are leaving this year, they’re some of the best guys I’ve ever met in my life. I’ll never forget a single one of them. It’ll be tough to say goodbye but it was a hell of a ride.”
“I’ve never been a part of a closer group of guys. It was an honour playing for Virden and I loved every minute of it. It was always a great atmosphere coming to the rink day in and day out. I thought our season went really well, it’s just unfortunate we’re on this side tonight but I loved every minute of it.”
The loss on Saturday night meant the end of the road for 20-year-olds who played with the Oil Caps this season. They are as follows: Rylee Zimmer, Landyn Cochrane, Kirklan Lycar, Jeran Knorr, Graeme Hore, Kyle Salaway, Devon Becker and Morgan Magwood.
Troy Leslie: “It’s hard to see our 20-year-olds get this close and not get it, but I’m sure I can speak for everyone in the organization and the community, we’re very proud of those guys. It was a good year.”