Second round preview | Pistons & Blizzard

It will be the Steinbach Pistons & OCN Blizzard meeting in the second round of the McMunn & Yates Turnbull Cup Playoffs when the puck drops on Friday night in La Broquerie for game one.

*After Round 1, the teams re-seed by league standings giving Steinbach home ice advantage over OCN in Round 2.

(1) Steinbach Pistons vs (4) OCN Blizzard

Series Overview

While there’s no comparison in the number of games or time played in the first-round series, both teams did what they had to do, battled through tough times, found ways to claw out wins and know what it takes for them to be successful going forward. Steinbach has been to the finals in consecutive seasons so experience may favor them, but the Blizzard can argue they’ve been through an entire playoff’s and then some in round 1 alone which put them in every situation possible and they found a way through.

As far as the special team’s battle goes, both teams boast an impressive penalty kill that can also be dangerous shorthanded. The Blizzard power play did damage against the Kings in the first round while Steinbach’s power play scored just one time, but it was a big one securing an overtime victory. The Pistons were shorthanded only 7 times in 4 games while the Blizzard were down a man 18 times in 7 games. Power plays may be few and far between so capitalizing on the man advantage becomes even more important.

If regular season games have any indication, both teams will play fast paced, fun to watch hockey and both have elite goaltender’s capable of stealing the show. It may come down to which team can withstand hostile territory and come away with a win on the road. The Blizzard of course will have to steal at least one if they hope to win the series, meanwhile the Pistons must deal with not only the team on the ice but all the noise from the fans. Both home rinks will be rocking.

Series Positives and Concerns:

Steinbach Pistons

Positives – Strong Scoring Depth: Steinbach has received offensive production from all 4 lines and all 6 defensemen. Heck, even goalie Cole Plowman has an assist in these playoffs. While certain players may get more attention in game planning than others, it’s those guys who don’t get talked about enough that make the biggest difference. All four lines can score but don’t sacrifice defense to find offense. On the blueline, rush generators by skating or by pass will force play up ice consistently.

Concerns – Rust and Sticking With It : The Pistons have been off since winning game 4 against Niverville back on March 28th. They’ve had practice time, but nothing can simulate real game action. Their opponent is coming off an emotionally charged game 7 and in a game-playing rhythm. If Steinbach starts slow, they could end up chasing the game and if they start pressing for offense, it could take them away from what makes them successful. The opposition goalie is one of the best in the league and can leave players looking at the lights or gripping the sticks tight. A mature Pistons lineup will have to find a way through that and not turn into a bunch of individuals over-playing a team game.

OCN Blizzard

Positives – Battle Tested, Experience Earned: It’s what everyone around Junior A hockey has been talking about, the battle, the intense competition, the grind it out dog fight that was that opening round series. The Blizzard came out not just winners but well-respected winners. They displayed a lot of heart, character and skill, showing they are not afraid to bring things right down on the razor’s edge. They don’t blink. The group can believe that they won’t get rattled in any situation. The team went in without a lot of playoff experience but safe to say they have it now after playing the equivalent of 10 games over the 7-game series.

Concerns – How Much Is Left: As much as that much hockey at a high level can be a good thing, it’s got to take its toll. Some of the Blizzard played heavy, heavy minutes and it will have an effect. If they can capture magic early and keep the rollercoaster riding high, that’s one thing. It may come down to how they handle a low or a lull and if they can battle back up after coming down. It’s a physical and mental grind and it’s not going to be getting any easier.

Series Stats: Steinbach vs Niverville Nighthawks (Steinbach won 4-0)
Power Play: 1/13 = 7.7%
Penalty Kill: 6/7 = 85.7% (1 shorthanded goal)
Goals for: 16
Goals Against: 8

Top Scorers:
Kirk Mullen – 5 points
Leo Chambers – 4 points
Jamie Fuchs – 4 points
Brandon Funk – 4 points

Series Stats: Blizzard vs Dauphin Kings (Blizzard won series 4-3)
Power Play: 7/30 = 23.3%
Penalty Kill: 15/18 = 83.3%
Goals For: 19
Goals Against: 17

Top Scorers:
Sebastian Hamming – 6 points
Sam Zagari – 6 points
Marlen Edwards – 6 points
Riley See – 5 points
Ethan Bibeau – 5 points

Season Series Pistons vs Blizzard
October 13th – Pistons win 4-3 in shootout in The Pas
Win – Cole Plowman 32/35
Loss – Loic Morin 26/29
Pistons PP 2/2
Blizzard PP 1/7

Pistons Stats:
Cook – 1 goal, 1 assist
Hoffman – 1 goal
Kaiser – 1 goal

Blizzard Stats:
McNeill – 2 goals
Bouvier – 1 goal
Edwards – 1 assist

October 23rd – Blizzard wins 4-3 in overtime (Showcase in Winnipeg/Pistons home game)

Win – Loic Morin 42/45
Loss – Cole Plowman 23/27
Blizzard PP 1/6
Pistons PP 0/1

Blizzard Stats:
Hamming – 1 goal (overtime winner) and 2 assists
Charron – 2 assists
Cooke – 1 goal, 1 assist

Pistons Stats:
Hoffman – 1 goal
Paronuzzi – 1 goal
Kostiuk – 1 goal

November 18th – Pistons win 3-1 in The Pas

Win – Cole Plowman 28/29
Loss – Tomas Anderson 40/43
Pistons PP 0/2
Blizzard PP1/4

Pistons Stats:
Funk – 2 goals
Cote – 2 assists
Jasper – 1 goal

Blizzard Stats:

Ward – 1 goal
Bibeau – 1 assist
Langdon – 1 assist

February 2nd – Pistons win 5-2 in La Broquerie

Win – Cole Plowman 36/38
Loss – Tomas Anderson 26/31
Pistons PP 1/2
Blizzard PP 1/9

Pistons Stats:
Doyle – 1 goal, 1 assist
Kaiser – 2 assists
Chambers – 1 goal

Blizzard Stats:
Supprien – 1 goal
Bouvier – 1 goal
Hamming – 1 assist