SPORTS FLASHBACK 2013: Pistons Win! Pistons Win! Pistons Win!
The Steinbach Pistons captivated Steinbach hockey fans, playing to sold-out arenas, during their six-week playoff run capping an incredible “rags to righes” season knocking off the defending champion Portage Terriers, sidelining the powerful Winnipeg Blues and defeating Dauphin Kings in six games enroute to their first MJHL championship.
In one of the most remarkable stories in the history of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League, the Steinbach Pistons claimed the Turnbull Cup and the MJHL title before another record crowd of 1,400 fans in Steinbach, with a thrilling 3-2 victory.
The Pistons wasted little time getting on the board first in the deciding game, scoring just 50 seconds into the contest. Trent Genyk scored for the Pistons again eight minutes later to give the home team a 2-0 lead. Dauphin managed to narrow the lead to a single goal in the second period, but Mike Nykoluk restored the two goal margin for the Pistons midway through the third.
The Kings came within a goal again, with three minutes left in the game, but the Pistons shut the door the rest of the way to hold on for the historic victory, supported by the deafening roar of 1,400 fans.
Needless to say, a celebration ensued, players poured off the bench, gloves and sticks flying as they converged on Corey Koop, named the MVP of the playoffs, as he had another stellar night in the net for the Pistons.
Koop, who is from Squamish, BC, was ecstatic that his family, who had been unable to be in Steinbach for the playoffs, will be there in Naniamo when the Pistons compete in the inaugural Western Canada Junior championship.
This remarkable story of the Steinbach Pistons began a year ago, when the franchise reached an all-time low. The club missed the playoffs by 30 points and had only a dozen skaters for the last two or three weeks of the season. Coach Paul Dyck ran the entire club by himself.
A change in ownership to a community group, which took over Aug. 7, was the first step to this unbelievable championship season. Given the proper support he needed, Paul Dyck is now the head coach of the MJHL champions.
The Pistons not only made the playoffs for the first time this season, they finished second in the Addison Division, then beat the defending champion Portage Terriers in seven games, sidelined the Winnipeg Blues in the division finals.
The Blues, it should be noted, finished 25 points ahead of the Pistons in the standings. Dauphin had 30 more points than the Steinbach team this season.
After the deciding game, an emotional Paul Dyck admitted it had not quite sunk in yet and one of the first people he would be calling would be former coach Rich Gosselin.
“I learned so much from him, he is part of this as well.”
In what could only be described as an understatement, Dyck said the best way to describe the 2012-13 Steinbach Pistons was “resilient.”
The Steinbach Pistons have certainly been rising to the occasion during these 2013 MJHL playoffs, and one need to look no further than the performances of Dan Taillefer and Justin Dalebozik who both turned in Herculean performances in Game Four and Game Five overtime victories that gave the Pistons a 3-2 lead in games and the opportunity to win the championship before another sellout home crowd.
In Game Four in Steinbach, Taillefer, the 17-year-old forward from La Broquerie, scored three goals, including the overtime winner, as the Pistons won 4-3.
After losing both earlier playoff games in Dauphin by 5-2 scores, the Pistons returned to Dauphin a day early and spent the night there in order to be more rested for Game Five.
It was Dalebozik, the leading scorer in the MJHL playoffs, who duplicated Taillefer’s performance from the previous game. He scored three times, including the winner in overtime, giving the Pistons their second straight 4-3 overtime victory.
Winning in Dauphin was huge, according to Coach Paul Dyck.
“It was overcoming adversity for us, we hadn’t won in that building this year. Corey Koop was again exceptional in this game and gave us a chance to win.”