Pistons pick up first win at national championship


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It took a few tries, but the Steinbach Pistons have finally walked off the ice at a national championship as the winning team.

The Pistons couldn’t have picked a better time to notch their first-ever win at a national championship, defeating the Kam River Fighting Walleye 5-2 at the Centennial Cup in Portage May 14, keeping their playoff hopes alive at the national junior A championship.

In the team’s previous trip to the RBC Cup (2018) and Western Canada Cup (2013), they failed to record a single win.

Ty Paisley's celebrations have been low-key at the Centennial Cup in Portage, as the home-grown forward has looked like one of the most dangerous forwards on the ice. Paisley has scored in two of the three games so far at the tournament. (Cassidy Dankochik The Carillon)

Steinbach’s playoff hopes will come down to a match-up against the Saskatchewan champions, the Battlefords North Stars May 16 at 7:30 p.m. The Pistons hold a one-point lead in the standings, after losing to Collingwood in overtime in the tournament opener.

It was a dominant effort to start the game from Steinbach. Nik Mikan got the Pistons on the board five minutes in, jumping all over a bouncing puck, and backhanding it past Eric Vanska.

Vanska was the busiest player on the ice in the early going, with Steinbach directing nine shots on net before Kam River registered their first one on Steinbach starter Dominik Wasik.

Jack Cook was able to respond for the Fighting Walleye, scoring a beautiful goal after a chance from the Pistons. Cook flipped his hips to receive a pass at the offensive blue-line, cruised by a defender, and sniped past Wasik. Cook was the Superior International Junior Hockey League’s top defender this season.

Kaiser gave the Pistons the lead right back 15 seconds later, as Steinbach continued to pepper shots towards the Kam River net. Kaiser was the beneficiary, jamming home another rebound.

Wasik was great when he needed to be, stopping two short-handed breakaways while Steinbach held a one-goal lead.

The Fighting Walleye’s bench was frustrated after Riley Borody received a double-minor for a slew foot late in the second period. It appeared as if he lost an edge, and as Borody fell down, his legs swept forward and took out the feet of Parker Jasper.

The Pistons immediately took advantage, with Landon Roberts tipping home a Travis Hensrud shot just a couple feet in front of the net moments into the powerplay. Steinbach had been unable to score on the powerplay throughout the tournament until the tipped goal.

Ty Paisley would make it 4-1 in the second-half of the double minor, jamming home a puck that took multiple deflections, and ended right up on his stick at the side of the net with no Fighting Walleye player within reach. Ian Amsbaugh rounded out the scoring for Steinbach, as his shot from the rush bounced off a Kam River player and into the back of the net.

The Fighting Walleye were playing with heavy hearts against Steinbach after receiving the news former teammate Dayton Clarke died in a car crash yesterday. Clarke, a native of Victoria, B.C., had been playing for the University of Oregon.

Clarke was a key figure for Kam River last season, scoring big-time goals for the franchise in their first-ever playoff run.

Kam River adorned their helmets with Clarke’s #10, alongside retiring the jersey temporarily, hanging it behind the bench at Stride Place. Euan Morrison had been wearing the number at the tournament, but swapped it in honour of his fallen teammate.

Steinbach had the day off Saturday after losing to Portage on Friday. In other action inside their group, Collingwood defeated Battlefords 3-1, and the Terriers walloped the Fighting Walleye 12-2. Only two games were on the schedule May 14, with the Cobras de Terrebonne picking up a clutch 2-1 win over the Timmins Rock after scoring a late winner.

The Brooks Bandits have a stranglehold on group A, with two regulation wins. The Terriers lead group B with their two wins. Portage will play Battlefords at 7:30 p.m. May 15.

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