The Mission City Outlaws have a chance to win their first ever Pacific Junior Hockey League championship on home ice on Saturday night.
Up 3-0 in their best-of-seven series to the Grandview Steelers, the Outlaws saw their 11 game playoff winning streak snapped on Wednesday, after falling 3-2 in overtime in Burnaby.
Mission trailed 2-0 after two periods on Wednesday, but stormed back when Sammy Zeinab scored a shorthanded goal to get the Outlaws on the board, and David McGowan sent the game to overtime by tying the game up with 4:32 left.
Steelers forward Ian Prevost was the overtime hero, breaking the Outlaws playoff streak by scoring 6:04 into the extra frame. Special teams hurt the Outlaws, as they allowed both a power play and shorthanded goal in the game. They also outshot Granview 36-22.
Game three on Monday saw the Outlaws display more of their offensive prowess with a 7-4 win in Burnaby. Mission exploded with four goals in the second period to build an insurmountable lead. Goal scorers included: Kolby Steen (two), Nicholas Thompson, Noah Wiebe, Zeinab, Baylee Wright and Bryce Pisiak.
The Outlaws took a stranglehold on the series on March 19, and got a big boost from the back end.
Mission picked up the 6-5 win on home ice, to give them the 2-0 series lead.
Defender Tyler Wickman blasted a shot from the point at 15:32 of the second period to tie the game up, and rearguard Nicholas Thompson potted the eventual game winner at 6:32 of the third. It capped off a wild game that was tied five different times. Outlaws head coach Brad Veitch said his d-men always have the green light to attack offensively, and it paid off on in game two.
“It was absolutely huge for us to get goals from those guys,” he said. “We’ve got four guys back there that can join the rush at anytime and they’re welcome to do so. We play that way more than other teams in this league.”
The familiar offensive faces for the Outlaws also contributed on Saturday, with Bryce Pisiak and Kolby Steen giving Mission a 2-1 lead after the first period.
The teams exchanged seven goals in the second period, as Justin Bowerman, Brody Dyck and Wickman replied in the second. The two teams were deadlocked at five after two.
Both teams tightened up in the second, with Thompson’s goal being the difference. Despite the win, Veitch said his team wasn’t perfect.
“I saw a team that was playing in bits and stops and starts,” he said. “We’re scoring goals but we’re playing way too loose defensively and making some stupid mistakes. But we’re finding ways to win, which is good.”
He said they have so far been able to make the more defensively minded Steelers play the Outlaws offensive game.
“We’re getting the lead on them and not letting them get into that defensive shell,” he said. “We’re also putting a lot of pressure on their goalie, but at the same time we’re putting a lot of strain on our defence and goalie with the way we’re playing.”
Penalties were also an issue for the Outlaws, as they allowed two power play goals and racked up eight minutes in penalties in the first. Mission did manage a shorthanded goal with Dyck’s goal in the second period.
Veitch said game one was similar to game two, with the Outlaws offence helping them earn the 7-4 win.
Steen had a hat trick, with Pisiak, Thompson, Ryan Sharma and Kyle Lennea adding single goals.
“We played pretty good in game one,” he said. “But like tonight there were some times where we left the zone too early and focused a little too much on offence.”
Game five occurs on Saturday at 6:30 p.m. in the Mission Leisure Centre’s South Arena, as the North Arena’s ice as been removed for the spring and summer. A win on Saturday gives the Outlaws their first ever league title, and advances them to the Cyclone Taylor Cup.
Game six, if necessary would return to Burnaby on Monday at 7:15, while the Outlaws would have home ice for a possible game seven, which would occur on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.
Read the Mission City Record online for more details on how Saturday’s game goes.