Jordan McCallum scored at 13:29 of the third period to cap off a remarkable comeback and send the Winnipeg South Blues to the championship of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League.
Trailing 2-0 after 40 minutes in Steinbach, the Blues scored three unanswered goals in the third period to beat the defending MJHL champion Pistons 3-2. With the win, the Blues took out the Pistons in five games, laid claim to the Addison Division title and will advance to face the Sher-Wood Division champion Dauphin Kings in the Turnbull Cup championship series.
The Blues are unquestionably the Cinderella team this season. They finished the regular season in fourth place in the Addison Division with a record of 31-23-6. Then they had to go three games to win a best-of-three “Series of Death,” against the fifth-place Winkler Flyers, just to make the official Addison semifinals.
However, Blues head coach Don MacGillivray went in to this championship series knowing his team was confident. After all, the Blues had taken out the Addison Division and league regular-season champion Selkirk Steelers (49-7-4) in five games. However, MacGillivray also knew his veterans had to step up and on Tuesday night at the T.G. Smith Centre, they did.
After Steinbach built a 2-0 advantage on second-period goals by Jonah Wasyluk and Justin Augert, Blues goaltender Byron Spriggs, the 20-year-old who was MJHL player of the week last week, stood tall. While Spriggs shut down the Pistons, Liam Bilton, 19, Kamerin Nault, 18, and MacCallum, 20, scored to give the Blues the thrilling, comeback win in Game 5.
Spriggs stopped 150 of the 160 shots he faced in the series.
“He’s a great goaltender,” said Pistons assistant captain Matt Franczyk. “He sees a lot of shots and he plays shots well.”
The Blues and Dauphin will open the championship series in Winnipeg. The Addison Division has home ice advantage this season. The schedule should be announced on Wednesday.
The Blues will face a team that hasn’t been beating in a single game in the playoffs this season. In fact, the Kings shut out the OCN Blizzard in the first round of the playoffs – in all four games. In total, the Kings outscored OCN and Virden 36-8 in eight games. They have yet to trail in a game this spring.
“Muzz (head coach Marlin Murray) has put together a good team over there,” said MacGillivray earlier in the playoffs. “Whoever makes it far enough to meet those guys will find themselves in really tough series.”
McGillivray’s Winnipeg Blues is the team that finds itself in that very tough situation.