The Steinbach Pistons made franchise and MJHL history, capturing their first-ever Turnbull Trophy before a frenzied home audience of more than 1,400 on Wednesday.
Thanks to a nail-biting 3-2 win over Dauphin Kings, Pistons won the best-of-seven Turnbull Trophy series in six games. The Pistons’ inspiring championship run quickly erased years of frustration for a franchise which began in Winnipeg as the Southeast Thunderbirds, who were based out of Winnipeg. The franchise then re-located to Sagkeeng as the Southeast Blades, who lost an MJHL final against OCN Blizzard.
Considering how far this Piston organization has come is testament to the years of hardwork and dedication by the Steinbach management, coaches and players. Consider just a year ago the club missed the playoffs with only 13 wins. Not to mention this was the Pistons’ first-ever appearance in the MJHL post-season.
“This is an amazing transformation for us,” said Pistons’ Head Coach/GM Paul Dyck. “It started in the summer. We have an amazing group committed to our team. We preserved through a lot of ups and down. It wasn’t an easy road we took. There is so much character in our group, no quit in this group….it’s an amazing group.”
The victory was extra special for Dyck, coming in his hometown before friends, family and fanatical Piston fans.
“It’s an unbelievable feeling,” Dyck told AM-1250 Radio. “The fans have been waiting for this. And being at home it’s very special to everyone.”
Pistons’ goaltender Corey Koop, who joined the club at the trade deadline, was outstanding against the high-powered Kings.
“There isn’t a team more deserving than us,” said Koop, who was named the playoffs’ MVP and top goaltender.
Koop, who hails from Squamish, B.,C. is now looking forward to playing in the Western Canada Cup to be held later this month in Nanaimo.
“I’m really exciting about playing out west,” said Koop, 20. “I’ve got family back at home waiting to watch me play. I know they can’t wait.”
Pistons’ captain Kyle Rous, a holdover from the former Beausejour Blades, was predictably ecstatic during the post-game celebration.
“This is absolutely unreal,” said the Pistons’ captain. “All the support we’ve gotten…it’s completely changed this whole team. This is very, very amazing.”
Myles Nykoluk scored what would be game winner, putting the Pistons up 3-1 midway through the third period. Kings refused to wave the white flag when Jesse Sinatynski scored his 10th goal of the playoffs with two minutes remaining.
But for the Kings and their loyal fans who made the trip to the Automobile City, the comeback would end at this point.
Pistons’ Trent Genyk set the pace early, scoring his first of two goals just 50 seconds after the national anthem. MJHL MVP Guillaume Naud rounded out the Kings’ scoring.
Pistons now advance to the inaugural Crescent Point Energy Western Canada Cup in Nanaimo (April 26-May 5). The WCC winner and runner-up will then advance to the RBC Cup in Summerside, PEI. Joining host Nanaimo will be SJHL rep Yorkton Terriers, who won their league on the weekend. Both the AJHL and BCJHL reps have yet to be determined.