Ottawa Junior Senators secure semi-final berth with overtime win

Nick Lalonde had the winner in a 5-4 overtime victory over the Steinbach Pistons at Prospera Centre.

The Steinbach Pistons are on life support at the 2018 RBC Cup after losing to the Ottawa Senators at Prospera Centre Wednesday night.

Nick Lalonde’s power play goal late in overtime gave the Ottawa Junior Senators a 5-4 win and a berth in Saturday’s semi-final round.

The Pistons picked up one point for making OT, but they now face a must-win scenario tomorrow (Thursday) night when they face Chilliwack. They must pick up at least one point against the Chiefs and hope that Wellington loses its afternoon game against the first-place Wenatchee Wild.

Otherwise, the Manitobans will be heading home after an early exit.

The game vs the Senators started very well for the Pistons, who stormed out to a 3-1 lead, with Brendan Martin opening the scoring 10:08 into period one. Riese Gaber started the play, carrying the puck down the left wing over the Ottawa blueline. He was stood up by a Senators defender, but was able to slip the puck ahead to Braden Purtill when saucered a pass through an Ottawa defender to Martin. In alone on the Senators net, the native of Thunder Bay, Ontario pulled the puck to his backhand and slipped the puck past Sens goalie Connor Hicks.

Ottawa got that one back 150 seconds later.

Starting in place of injured netminder Matthew Thiessen, Matthew Radomsky gave up a softie to Conor Smart, who beat him clean with a wrist shot from the top of the left faceoff circle near the left-wing wall.

But the Pistons put two more behind Hicks before the period was done.

Purtill restored the Steinbach lead at 16:03, crashing the net and getting a tap-in at the back post on a centering pass/shot from Gaber.

With 31 seconds left in the opening frame, Ottawa’s Devon Daniels was sent off for hooking, sending the Pistons to the power play. Just eight seconds later, defenceman Darby Gula snuck down from the left point to bury a back-door feed from Bradley Schoonbaert, giving Steinbach a two-goal cushion.

The teams combined for four goals on 15 shots, with the Pistons holding a 9-6 edge.

Ottawa scored the only goal in a penalty-filled second period to pull within one. Twelve of the 20 minutes were spent with someone on the power play as the officials wore out their arms.

Seconds after killing off Craig McCabe’s double minor for high sticking, the Senators were buzzing in the Steinbach end. Defenceman Zach Salloum dropped the puck to Finn Evans, who wound up with a full slap shot from above the right faceoff circle.

With traffic in front, Radomsky may not have seen the puck as it whistled past him, into the Pistons net.

Ottawa drew even five minutes and 45 seconds into period three on a goal by Gabriel Morin. Off an offensive zone draw, Ethan Manderville drove the puck to the net from the left wing, tightly checked by Steinbach’s Tyson McConnell. Manderville spun off the check and delivered a pass into the goalmouth for Morin, who snapped a quick shot over Radomsky’s glove.

The Pistons retook the lead at 8:47 on a power play goal by Austin Heidemann. Purtill collected his third point of the match, dishing a pass into the slot from the left wing boards, where Heidemann snapped a shot inside the right post.

But Ottawa answered right back with another equalizer 68 seconds later. This one came off a scramble in the Steinbach end. Evans took the first shot on Radomsky, who made the save but left a rebound for Owen Guy. The Senators captain made no mistake, popping the puck over Radomsky to send this game to overtime.

With 4:33 to go in four-on-four OT, Purtill was sent off for slashing, giving Ottawa a four-on-three power play. Forty one seconds later, point man Salloum saucered the puck to Nick Lalonde at the left faceoff dot and he stepped into a slap shot, blasting the puck through Radomsky to give the Sens the win.

Smart was Ottawa’s Player of the Game while Purtill got the nod for Steinbach.

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