2024 Turnbull Cup Final preview

It’s the first time in their respective histories that the Steinbach Pistons and Winkler Flyers meet with the Turnbull Cup on the line.

(1) Steinbach Pistons vs (2) Winkler Flyers

Series Overview

The top two teams in the Manitoba Junior Hockey League have seemingly been on a collision course the entire season, and after hard fought victories in round two, the battle of the titans will come true with Steinbach vs Winkler for the championship.

Steinbach was on the brink of elimination heading into game six in The Pas but stepped up and took over control of that game before carrying that effort over into game seven where they posted a shutout to advance. Cole Plowman has been spectacular as the 20-year-old has been a rock, most notably in games six and seven against the Blizzard. A deep, balanced forward group that’s as defensibly responsible as they are offensively talented, gives the Pistons a strong blend of confidence and ferociousness in all areas of the rink. Led by returning champions Leo Chambers and Kirk Mullen, the entire forward group has chipped in to this point. The defense is a mix of veteran’s unafraid to put it all on the line and dynamic rookies who have rounded out their games, coming alive at the perfect time.

Winkler made some key adjustments in their series against the Virden Oil Capitals and showcased a mature approach that resulted in picking up three straight overtime victories. Always known for dynamic skill, the Flyers proved they can play a solid, mature, structured game and are comfortable taking games down to the wire. With their size and speed, the Flyers can dictate a lot when it comes to how the game is managed. Dalton Andrew may have started a bit slow, but the 20-year-old scoring machine has racked up 12 points in 11 games, including a pair of overtime-winning goals. With both the veterans and the young guns lighting the lamp, the defenders have quietly ramped up their play, using their elite awareness to keep from spending too much time in their zone and their expert-level puck-moving skills to get plays started in the other direction. When things do start to tilt against them, Malachi Klassen in the crease is a pretty terrific safety blanket to have. The Holy Cross commit has made some sensational, game-saving saves in both rounds so far.

The two teams have a long-standing rivalry with even regular-season games having a playoff-style intensity most of the time. There’s going to be a lot of emotions, fireworks, highs and lows. Whichever team can best manage all of that while also playing high level hockey, may be the team that comes out on top.

Series Positives and Concerns:

Steinbach Pistons

Positives – Depth: It’s been talked about throughout the playoffs, but the Piston’s depth has been a major factor in getting them to this point. Whether it’s been offensive, using all four lines to find a needed goal, or using every player throughout the game, keeping key guys fresh for crunch time, there’s a belief that whoever is tapped to do a job will get it done.

Concerns – Wear and Tear: Playoffs are always a grind. The style of hockey it takes to win can take a toll physically and mentally. The Flyers will look to grind down on the defense and make forwards pay for touching the puck in the neutral or offensive zone. That will have an effect as the series goes on. It’s up to Steinbach to be quick, be detailed and even be the first to up the physical play, don’t be responsive to it.

Winkler Flyers

Positives – Willingness to Adapt: Winkler seemed to have two main tools in the toolbox, a hammer and a sledgehammer. In round two, when that didn’t work, they made some big and subtle adjustments that launched them into the final round. That mature approach will serve them well. They’ll always have the lethal power play and big-time scorers but the maturity to let the game develop and adjust will keep them in every type of game.

Concerns – Keeping Emotions in Check: It was something of an issue throughout the season and early in the playoffs but as a group, the Flyers made some adjustments to stay out of the penalty box. Might be a bit harder with the trophy on the line against their biggest rival. Their hardnosed hockey style will need to earn more power plays than penalty kills. They have shown they can still be dangerous shorthanded but more so 5 on 5.

How They Got Here

Steinbach vs Niverville Nighthawks (Steinbach won 4-0)
Steinbach vs OCN Blizzard (Steinbach won 4-3)
Power Play: 5/25 = 20%
Penalty Kill: 23/26 = 88.5%
Goals For: 34
Goals Against: 22 

Top Scorers

Kirk Mullen – 9 points in 11 games
Leo Chambers – 9 points in 11 games
Brandon Funk – 8 points in 11 games
Trey Sauder – 7 points in 11 games
Brett Kaiser – 7 points in 9 games

How They Got Here

Winkler vs Portage Terriers (Winkler wins 4-1)
Winkler vs Virden Oil Capitals (Winkler wins 4-2)
Power Play: 7/34 = 20.6%
Penalty Kill: 29/40 = 72.5%
Goals For: 32
Goals Against: 26

Top Scorers

Dalton Andrew – 12 points in 11 games
Trent Penner – 10 points in 11 games
Jayce Legaarden – 9 points in 11 games
Zach Nicolas – 8 points in 11 games
Avery Anderson – 8 points in 11 games

Season Series – Pistons vs Flyers

Sept. 29th – Winkler wins 4-2 in La Broquerie
Win – Klassen 23/25
Loss – Liden 17/21
Flyers PP 0/4
Pistons PP 0/5

Flyers Stats:

Penner – 2 goals
Andrew – 2 assists
Svenson – 1 goal

Pistons Stats:

Kostiuk – 2 assists
Mullen – 1 goal
Kaiser – 1 goal

Oct. 28th – Pistons win 4-3 in La Broquerie
Win – Plowman 29/32
Loss – Klassen 11/15
Pistons PP 1/3
Flyers PP 1/6

Pistons Stats:

Brandon Funk – 1 goal, 1 assist
Jack Cook – 2 assists
Paronuzzi – 1 goal

Flyers Stats:

Legaarden – 1 goal
Penner – 1 goal
Richards – 1 goal

Dec. 20th – Pistons win 4-3 in Winkler
Win – Plowman 26/29
Loss – Klassen 29/33
Pistons PP 1/4
Flyers PP 1/5

Pistons Stats:

Noad – 2 assists
Hoffman – 1 goal, 1 assist
Doyle – 1 goal

Flyers Stats:

Beauchemin – 1 goal, 1 assist
Jones – 1 goal
Richards – 2 assists

Jan. 26th – Flyers win 3-2 in Winkler
Win – Klassen 35/37
Loss – Plowman 30/33
Flyers PP 1/3
Pistons PP 1/5

Flyers Stats:

Penner – 3 assists
Beauchemin – 2 goals
Andrew – 1 goal, 1 assist

Pistons Stats:

Szabo – 1 goal, 1 assist
Chambers 1 goal
Burns – 1 assist

Feb. 19th – Pistons win 7-2 in La Broquerie
Win – Plowman 29/31
Loss – Ernst 24/28
Pistons PP 2/3
Flyers PP 1/2

Pistons Stats:

Paronuzzi – 1 goal, 2 assists
Mullen – 1 goal, 1 assist
Chambers – 1 goal, 1 assist

Flyers Stats:

Legaarden – 1 goal, 1 assist
Jones – 1 goal
Diemer – 1 assist

Mar. 6th – Flyers win 3-1 in Winkler
Win – Klassen 20/21
Loss – Plowman 27/30
Fleyrs PP 0/4
Pistons PP 0/1

Flyers Stats:

Penner – 1 goal, 1 assist
Andrew – 1 goal
Ens – 1 goal

Pistons Stats:

Kostiuk – 1 goal
Fuchs – 1 assist
Mattfield – 1assist