They had all day to think about it but the Winnipeg high school hockey champions from John Taylor Collegiate overcame quite a scare on Friday's first day of the MILK AAAA Provincial High School Hockey Championship.
The Pipers fell 3-2 in overtime to the Westman champion Crocus Plains Plainsmen from Brandon in the morning and had to wait until evening for their other preliminary game.
They survived all the worrying as well as their second test, besting the Stonewall Rams 3-1 Friday night at the St. James Civic Centre.
Factor in Stonewall's mid-afternoon 6-3 win over Crocus Plains and the Pipers wound up the winners of Pool A and advance to today's semifinal round, along with the Rams.
"I was a little worried about how we'd come out in the first period," Pipers head coach Justin Steeves said when the day was done. "Any time you come off a real big high from winning, no matter how long the layoff, you always worry about whether you can get yourself up to the level you need to.
"Quite obviously we didn't."
The Pipers were undisciplined, taking six minors in the first period against the Plainsmen, and eventually lost the game when Jackson Wallis of Crocus Plains scored at 4:44 of overtime.
But in the evening affair, Graham Philp scored five minutes into the game and Mathew Carey added a 2-0 goal in the first period and the Pipers were never really in trouble.
"The first goal is key," Steeves said, noting his team is 7-0 in the playoffs when scoring first. "We got the first goal in every one of our city (playoff) games. Once we got it, we relaxed and realized we were back to where we were.
"Tonight, we just regrouped. I don't think the guys got rattled. We've always been a team that's composed. I was pretty confident our guys would rebound."
In their three-goal victory over Crocus Plains, Stonewall had two-goal games from Bryce Sholdice and Dylan Tyerman. The power of that win helped them advance.
In Pool B, the Oak Park Raiders won both Friday games to advance to Saturday as that group's top seed.
The Morden Thunder, who lost to Oak Park 2-0 early but rebounded to drop host River East Kodiaks 4-3 in a shootout, there the other team to advance from Pool B.
Oak Park's Alex Peterson broke a 1-1 tie with River East in the afternoon contest and then Dylan Zeke added some power-play insurance.
The championship final will be Monday at 7:30 at St. James Civic Centre.
Action starts at 4 p.m.
At St. James Civic Centre
Crocus Plains (Brandon) 3 John Taylor 2 (OT)
Stonewall 6 Crocus Plains 3
John Taylor 3 Stonewall 1
Oak Park 2 Morden 0
Morden 4 River East 3 (SO)
Oak Park 3 River East 1
John Taylor vs. Morden, 4 p.m.
Oak Park vs. Stonewall, 6 p.m.