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Strong second and third period propels Pistons to big win over Portage

Seven different Pistons scored goals, Bradley Schoonbaert registered 4 assists, and Darby Gula had 3 helpers himself as the Steinbach Pistons defeated the Portage Terriers 8-2 Wednesday night at Stride Place.

The Pistons registered their first victory over Portage this season, and in doing so pushed their win streak to seven games. Matthew Thiessen made 18 saves for his 22nd win of the season, while Lasse Petersen stopped 4 of 6 shots he faced, and backup Brock Aiken made 26 saves as he took the loss.

The Pistons got on the board just 92 seconds into the first, as Austin Heidemann potted home his 19th of the year from Schoonbaert to make it 1-0. The Terriers responded midway through the first period on the power play, as James McIsaac notched his 22nd of the season from Jeremey Leipsic and Mackenzie Dwyer. However just 12 seconds later, Easton Bennett replied for the Pistons from Gula at 10:17 of the first to give the Pistons the lead right back. Bennett’s goal chased Lasse Petersen from the net, and Aiken came in the rest of the way for the Terriers.

The play was even throughout the first 20 minutes of play, however in the second period is where momentum shifted firmly towards Steinbach. “We like the energy we were playing with and the compete in our game, and we wanted to build on that,” Head Coach Paul Dyck said after the game. “We felt we were getting some good looks offensively, but needed to be aware of giving up odd man rushes.”

The message worked, as the Terriers did not record a shot in the second period for about 15 minutes of the frame, and the Pistons poured on the pressure on the Portage goal. Aiken made tons of acrobatic stops to keep his team in the game, but finally Riese Gaber buried his 20th goal of the season from Brendan Martin and Gula at 15:34 of the second period. For Gaber, it was his 5th goal in his past five games.

But just like the Pistons did in the first, the Terriers responded shortly after as Kain Stevenson fired a shot from the right point past Thiessen, and the Terriers were back within one just 20 seconds later.

The Pistons needed a big third period, and they got it, scoring 5 goals in the frame. Tyson McConnell tapped home a Schoonbaert pass on the PP to make it 4-2. Then Luke Bellerose scored his first, when he buried a rebound in front of the net off of a Mark Taraschuk wrist shot to give the Pistons a 5-2 lead at the 8:07 mark. The Pistons put the game away at the 12:24 mark, as Heidemann and Schoonbaert sprung Drew Worrad on a breakaway. His shot beat Aiken on the glove side, and the Pistons were up 6-2. Dyck said that he liked how the team stayed positive and kept attacking the goal throughout the game.

Daniel McKitrick scored his 20th of the season from Jack Johnson and Will Koop at 14:48. After the Terriers got frustrated with the officials late in the period, McConnell tipped home his second of the night of a Darby Gula shot during a 5-on-3 power play at 18:48.

Schoonbaert picked up his fourth and final assist on McConnell’s second of the game. “He was feeling it tonight, and made some great plays that resulted in goals,” Dyck said, complimenting his leading scorer. “I thought he was outstanding all night.”

SPECIAL TEAMS

Two goals by McConnell in the third gave the Pistons a 2/8 clip on the power play. Portage went 1/3 on their man advantages.

UP NEXT: The next time these two teams will face-off is February 28th, the final home game of the regular season for the Pistons. Steinbach will be back in action on Saturday, as they are on the road to face the Winnipeg Blues. The puck drops at 7:30 pm.