Oil Caps cap off special night with a big championship final win over the Pistons
The MJHL championship final resumed on Thursday night in front of a sold-out crowd at Tundra Oil and Gas Place as the Oil Caps wound up coming away with a big 4-3 win over the Steinbach Pistons.
After a horrific crash last week that involved the SJHL’s Humboldt Broncos, the Oil Caps, Steinbach Pistons and the MJHL collaborated on a touching pregame ceremony to honour and pay tribute to the many lives that were lost. Fans witnessed a ceremony that involved a plethora of dignitaries and first responders, tribute videos as well as a 16-second moment of silence to honour the 16 people that lost their lives.
After the ceremony, it was time for Game 2 of the best-of-seven series and it didn’t take long for the visiting team to get on the board first. Just 1:12 into the first period, William Koop netted his second of the playoffs to make it 1-0 for Steinbach. The Pistons continued to pour it on, outshooting Virden 16-8 in the first period, but were unable to solve Oil Caps netminder Riley McVeigh who made several key stops to keep Virden to within one goal after 20 minutes.
“To their credit, they got the early goal and then they seemed to put us on our heels,” said Oil Caps head coach and GM Troy Leslie. “They did everything right that period. I really stressed that we needed to win more battles in the second period and we eventually were able to get going.”
After a rather back-and-forth middle frame, it was the home team that finally cracked the code of Pistons goaltender Matthew Thiessen as Graeme Hore scored his second of the playoffs at the 17:46 mark, tying the contest 1-1.
“We knew coming into this game with the break we had that both teams were going to be going full cylinder,” said Oil Caps co-captain Dylan Thiessen. “It was a pretty slow start from us but a goal by Graeme there late in the second and we just seemed to really roll after that.”
The Oil Caps got the home fans off their seats just after the five-minute mark of the third as Tristen Cross was able to find the back of the net (5:35 mark) giving Virden its first lead of the night. However, the lead was short-lived as the Pistons scored consecutive tallies – Jack Johnson at 6:39 followed by Easton Bennet at 13:22 – to make it 3-2 for Steinbach.
The Oil Caps however, didn’t quit as Rylee Zimmer’s seventh goal of the postseason at 14:07 made it 3-3. Less than two minutes later, Zimmer’s linemate Landyn Cochrane also found the back of the net (15:48). The Oil Caps were back on top.
“We have a lot of character in that room,” Thiessen said. “We know that it takes a lot of character to be up 2-1 to quickly being down 3-2 and to be able to battle back like that. I commend all our guys for how we worked in that third period.”
The Oil Caps were able to shut the door the rest of the way, and in the process, now have a 2-0 lead in the series with Game 3 slated for Saturday night in Steinbach.
McVeigh’s 40 saves in net earned him his 10th win of the playoffs, while Thiessen made 30 saves in the loss for Steinbach.
-McVeigh on his play as of late in net for Virden: “During the playoffs, I’ve definitely felt really comfortable. I think this could be the best I’ve been feeling in a long time. It’s good to come at a time like this, so I think that’s definitely big for me right now and it gives me a lot of confidence going forward.”
-Leslie on Zimmer, who is now tied for the team lead with Ben Dalke with seven goals this postseason: “He’s a gamebreaker. We knew that when we brought him here. He’s a guy, with his speed and skill can step up and make the difference and obviously he’s doing that right now.”
-The Twin Valley Co-op three stars: No. 1 – Rylee Zimmer (1 G, 2 A); No. 2 – Riley McVeigh 40 saves; No. 3 – Jack Johnson (Steinbach) 1 G, 1 A.
-The Redfern Farm Services Hardest worker: Justin Lee